NFL1000: Final Regular-Season Breakdown of the League's Top Players

Doug Farrar@@BR_DougFarrar NFL Lead ScoutJanuary 5, 2017

NFL1000: Final Regular-Season Breakdown of the League's Top Players

0 of 22

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    After 17 weeks of grading, noting injury replacements and position switches, and arguing among ourselves as to which particular attributes are most important at every position, the NFL1000 team has come to the end of its first regular season in this particular iteration.

    It's been an amazing journey—the ability to assemble a team of 17 scouts to analyze and grade every player in every game has given us (and hopefully you, dear reader) unique insight into how football is played, coached and schemed.

    Throughout the year, we've done comprehensive write-ups every week with our player grades and explanations of those grades. But for the regular-season finale, and in the work-up to the postseason (because we're not nearly done yet), it's time to hand out the awards for the best players overall. We have come up with cumulative grades, and you can now see which players we deemed to be the best at their positions and the best overall.

    Our top two overall players show the extreme value of quarterback protection. Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams was graded as the best overall player, though he missed four games with a league-mandated suspension. There is no blocker in the NFL with Williams' combination of strength, agility and meanness.

    The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is the centerpiece of its current success, and left tackle Tyron Smith graded second overall league-wide. No surprise there—Smith has been dominant for the last few years, as pass-rushers can rarely get around him.

    Two Philadelphia Eagles offensive linemen ranked in the top six—left tackle Jason Peters and right tackle Lane Johnson, the latter of whom's absence demonstrated his importance. Johnson missed 10 games after being suspended for a performance-enhancing-drug violation, but he was so dominant when he played that it's fair to wonder whether the Eagles would have made the playoffs had he been active all season. Philly's backups never measured up.

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ranks third overall—again, no surprise there. While he may lose the NFL Most Valuable Player award to the Atlanta Falcons signal-caller Matt Ryan, and he did have bouts of inconsistency in 2016, Rodgers was on fire during the second half of the season, showing his rare combination of accuracy, mobility and arm talent. When he's on, he's the best quarterback in the league (and one of the best ever). His grades reflected that throughout the season.

    We had specific criteria for entry into the year-end NFL1000 lists: Players had to play at least five games. There are instances in which players switched positions throughout the year (Green Bay receiver/running back Ty Montgomery is a prime example), and for the most part, we graded those players at all of the positions they played and kept them there for the review. We saw scheme changes with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets defense over the season and switched them from their original 3-4/4-3 designations, so you'll see examples of Jets and Raiders players in our grades for both kinds of ends and linebackers.

    As it has been through the season, there is no predetermined narrative with these grades. No mysterious "clutch factor." No tweaked-out quarterback ratings that defy explanation. Our grades are based on pure scouting, and lots of it. We grade the key criteria for each position based on a series of attributes and add in a score for positional importance.

    In the case of a tie, our scouts ask, "Which player would I want on my team?" and adjust accordingly.

    Is it a subjective process? Of course—that's what scouting is, and as we like to say, ties are no fun.

    Each player is evaluated and graded by our crack team of scouts, who possess more than 100 combined years of experience in playing, front-office work, coaching and media. Cian Fahey, John Middlekauff, Marcus Mosher, Mark Schofield, Duke Manyweather, Ethan Young, Joe Goodberry, Justis Mosqueda, Charles McDonald, Zach Kruse, Derrik Klassen, Jerod Brown, Ian Wharton, Kyle Posey, Mark Bullock, Chuck Zodda and Doug Farrar have watched tape for months to bring you these grades.

    Here are the final NFL1000 player grades for the 2016 NFL regular season.


    All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.


1 of 22

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The NFL1000 team of scouts was given a series of important attributes to grade for every player in their positional review. Using a grading scale starting at 0 and going up to anywhere from five to 50 based on the position and the attribute, our scouts grade each player based on their own expertise and countless hours of tape review over the years. Our evaluators are given specific positional assignments based on their proven fields of expertise.

    Every NFL player with snaps in offensive and defensive roles is observed and graded based on a multitiered process that marks specific attributes per position. As we're combing through All-22 footage to assess each performance, there are additional factors to consider.

    We adjust for opponent based on the obvious notion that the cornerback we're grading is doing a better job if he's shutting down Antonio Brown than if he's negating the efforts of a seventh-round rookie receiver.

    We also adjust for players with multiple responsibilities in the course of a game and over the course of time. Think of guys like Mike Daniels and Michael Bennett on the defensive line—how they seamlessly switch from gap to gap. Or how cornerbacks such as Chris Harris Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu dominate outside and in the slot. Or how receivers such as Doug Baldwin and Larry Fitzgerald bedevil cornerbacks from multiple field positions.

    That's more important than ever in today's NFL, and we pay attention to it.

    We do not adjust for injuries. If a player is underperforming because of an injury, that's part of his performance, fair or unfair, and it needs to be graded accordingly.

    Grading any player is a subjective process, but with a series of attributes per position and a specific direction as to what to grade and how, we work to make it as definitive as possible.

    Editor's note: We rounded many scores to fit more neatly within the tables, so please be aware that the rounded versions of the scores may not always appear to add up perfectly. Rest assured that they do within our full spreadsheet. 

Top 50 Overall

2 of 22

    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    One of the best parts of the NFL1000 project is how it brings deserved exposure to underrated players. Take Miami Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who isn't talked about enough among the elite at his position. He was on pace to repeat his stellar 2015 campaign before an October shoulder injury prematurely ended his season. He played just six games but made the cut for our final rankings, and Miami will benefit from his excellence once again next year.

    Seattle's Earl Thomas is one of the NFL's best safeties, and after he broke his left leg in Week 13, the Seahawks' generally stellar defense has fallen apart. According to's Bill Barnwell, they had 10 interceptions and allowed seven touchdowns and a 77.8 opponent passer rating when Thomas was on the field. Without him? They've allowed nine touchdowns with one pick and an opponent passer rating of 99.5.

    One reason Aaron Rodgers was able to come around in the second half of the season is a lot of great pass-blocking. Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, one of the favorites of offensive tackle scout Duke Manyweather, ranks ninth overall in our grades. Bakhtiari allowed four sacks in 1,055 regular-season snaps, but no hits and just 16 hurries. He also didn't give up any sacks since Week 13.

    Another formerly under-the-radar lineman is Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who hasn't allowed a sack since Week 12 after giving up five in the first two weeks of the season. Schwartz has sealed up his technique and his screen blocking has helped to revitalize Kansas City's offense, which relies heavily on screens to Travis Kelce (our top-ranked tight end this season) and various other short passing concepts. Schwartz will play a vital role in the Chiefs' playoff success.

    Finally, while the Baltimore Ravens offense was underwhelming throughout the year, that wasn't on fullback Kyle Juszczyk. He helped in every possible way—blocking, running and receiving. Juszczyk making the top 50 and Denver Broncos rookie Andy Janovich just missing the cut seems to indicate that the fullback position might not be dead just yet.


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Top 50 Overall
    RankPlayerPos.TeamEnd-of-Season Avg.
    1Trent WilliamsLTWAS83.1
    2Tyron SmithLTDAL83.0
    3Aaron RodgersQBGB81.5
    4Lane JohnsonRTPHI81.0
    5Aaron DonaldDTLA80.9
    6Jason PetersLTPHI80.6
    7Reshad JonesSSMIA80.5
    8Le'Veon BellRBPIT80.3
    9David BakhtiariLTGB79.9
    10Joe ThomasLTCLE79.7
    11Luke KuechlyILBCAR79.5
    12David JohnsonRBARI79.2
    13Cordy GlennLTBUF78.9
    14Jadeveon Clowney3-4 OLBHOU78.9
    15Bryan BulagaRTGB78.7
    16Ezekiel ElliottRBDAL78.5
    17Jamie CollinsILBNE/CLE78.3
    18Marcus GilbertRTPIT78.1
    19Jerrell FreemanILBCHI77.9
    20Von Miller3-4 OLBDEN77.9
    21Donald PennLTOAK77.3
    22Chris Harris Jr.CBDEN77.3
    23Devin McCourtyFSNE77.1
    24Marshal YandaOGBAL77.0
    25Geno AtkinsDTCIN77.0
    26Tom BradyQBNE76.9
    27Mitchell SchwartzRTKC76.9
    28LeSean McCoyRBBUF76.7
    29Harrison SmithFSMIN76.6
    30Kam ChancellorSSSEA76.5
    31Zach StriefRTNO76.3
    32Fletcher CoxDTPHI76.3
    33Ty NsekheLTWAS76.2
    34Ndamukong SuhDTMIA76.2
    35Andrew LuckQBIND76.1
    36Kyle JuszczykFBBAL76.1
    37Taylor LewanLTTEN76.1
    38Joe StaleyLTSF76.0
    39Josh SittonOGCHI76.0
    40DeMarco MurrayRBTEN75.9
    41Andrew WhitworthLTCIN75.9
    42Sam BradfordQBMIN75.8
    43A.J. GreenWRCIN75.8
    44Ryan SchraederRTATL75.6
    45Cam NewtonQBCAR75.6
    46Riley ReiffRTDET75.5
    47Eric BerrySSKC75.5
    48Earl ThomasFSSEA75.5
    49Jake MatthewsLTATL75.4
    50Melvin Ingram3-4 OLBSD75.4


3 of 22

    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Aaron Rodgers was the top-ranked quarterback at midseason, and he only pulled further away over the second half of the campaign. His Week 16 outing against Minnesota was the best performance of any quarterback all year, and his 300-yard, four-touchdown game against Detroit in Week 17 wasn't far off. Rodgers may not win the MVPhe can thank his receivers for thatbut he deserves it more than any other signal-caller. 

    The likely MVP winner at this point appears to be Atlanta's Matt Ryan, whose numbers have been inflated by an outstanding supporting cast. Julio Jones has been brilliant when available, but more importantly, coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-callingcombined with an impressive offensive line and pair of great running backshas put Ryan in position to throw from wide-open pockets of space into wide-open pockets of space. Ryan was also lucky with bad throws that could (or should) have been interceptions.

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't play until the fifth game of the season, but since making his debut, he has been consistently impressive. Though Brady hasn't played at the peak of his powers like in previous seasons, he consistently stood out against weaker opposition. His best game of the year his 406-yard, three-touchdown outing against the Ravens, even though he had one terrible interception.

    Sam Bradford's 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles was a battle over the first eight games or so, as he struggled to set his feet coming off the second ACL tear of his career. A last-minute trade to the Minnesota Vikings heading into 2016 threatened to disrupt his preparation once again, but Bradford was a stud. Playing behind the worst pass-blocking line in the league with unreliable receivers and often problematic play-calling, Bradford consistently threw receivers open while playing against pressure. Despite those less-than-ideal conditions, he led the league in completion percentage and rarely put the ball at risk of being intercepted.

    Injuries also adversely affected Seattle's Russell Wilson in 2016. During the first half of the season, he had multiple lower-body ailments that prevented him from setting his feet comfortably or being his usual elusive self behind the line of scrimmage. Wilson had some great stretches of play this year, but his season as a whole was marred by not being 100 percent.

    In the same NFC West division as Wilson, Los Angeles Rams rookie Jared Goff proved to be a disaster, while the player selected immediately after him, Philadelphia's Carson Wentz, wasn't that much better.

    Dallas' Dak Prescott outshone both players, as although he has obvious flaws in his ball placement and doesn't offer the same value Tony Romo does, he has consistently done enough to help the Cowboys win. It hasn't all just been the offensive line, either. Prescott's acumen to diagnose coverages and change plays, combined with his poise, has made him an extremely valuable player in Dallas.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
    • Worst Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers
    • Most Accurate: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
    • Least Accurate: Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers
    • Best Arm: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
    • Worst Arm: Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets
    • Best Under Pressure/Run Threat: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
    • Worst Under Pressure/Run Threat: Gabbert
    • Best Decision-Maker: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
    • Worst Decision-Maker: Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers


    Grading Scale

    • Acc: Accuracy (Graded out of 25)
    • Arm: Arm Strength (Graded out of 25)
    • Press: Pressure/Run Threat (Graded out of 20) (Pressure weighted at 15, run threat at 5)
    • Dec: Decision-Making (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Quarterback Rankings
    1Aaron RodgersGB20.022.614.414.61081.5
    2Tom BradyNE18.619.514.214.71076.9
    3Andrew LuckIND17.721.513.913.01076.1
    4Sam BradfordMIN17.920.713.513.71075.8
    5Cam NewtonCAR16.122.114.313.01075.6
    6Drew BreesNO17.619.714.313.81075.3
    7Philip RiversSD17.119.114.914.11075.1
    8Ryan TannehillMIA17.520.513.413.11074.5
    9Carson PalmerAZ16.920.913.712.91074.3
    10Matt RyanATL16.919.014.114.21074.1
    11Ben RoethlisbergerPIT16.620.513.612.91073.6
    12Marcus MariotaTEN16.719.613.913.31073.5
    13Dak PrescottDAL15.819.313.813.81072.6
    14Tyrod TaylorBUF15.320.014.312.71072.4
    15Matthew StaffordDET15.420.813.612.51072.4
    16Russell WilsonSEA16.919.912.213.41072.3
    17Derek CarrOAK16.121.111.812.91071.9
    18Eli ManningNYG15.719.613.312.81071.4
    19Alex SmithKC15.718.212.713.11069.7
    20Colin KaepernickSF14.619.213.511.81069.1
    21Jay CutlerCHI15.020.811.811.01068.6
    22Jameis WinstonTB13.418.413.212.91067.9
    23Trevor SiemianDEN15.118.112.311.91067.4
    24Andy DaltonCIN14.818.311.312.41066.8
    25Brian HoyerCHI15.017.211.512.71066.3
    26Kirk CousinsWAS15.117.911.711.61066.3
    27Joe FlaccoBAL14.
    28Robert Griffin IIICLE12.
    29Carson WentzPHI13.617.912.211.41065.1
    30Matt BarkleyCHI13.617.412.111.91065.0
    31Cody KesslerCLE14.917.311.211.01064.4
    32Matt MooreMIA14.317.511.311.31064.3
    33Case KeenumLA14.017.611.310.81063.7
    34Blake BortlesJAX12.617.711.710.31062.3
    35Ryan FitzpatrickNYJ13.116.310.610.71060.7
    36Brock OsweilerHOU12.617.110.210.51060.3
    37Jared GoffLA12.016.710.910.71060.3
    38Blaine GabbertSF10.816.310.28.51055.8


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Jimmy Garoppolo
    • Geno Smith
    • Nick Foles
    • Tom Savage
    • Tony Romo
    • Drew Stanton
    • EJ Manuel
    • Josh McCown
    • Bryce Petty
    • Paxton Lynch
    • Trevone Boykin

Running Backs

4 of 22

    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    In 2016, star running backs made a re-emergence, while a couple of young guys established their worth as great players in the NFL.

    Despite being suspended the first three games of the season, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell was the highest-graded running back in this year's NFL1000. He averaged almost five yards per carry on the ground to go along with 75 catches. He carried the Steelers at times when Ben Roethlisberger struggled. He is a Hall of Fame talent who should break the bank this spring in free agency. 

    Arizona's David Johnson established himself as the league's second-best running back in 2016, demonstrating an ability to carry an average team when quarterback Carson Palmer struggled. Johnson had a health scare against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17 when he was rolled up on, but he should be 100 percent healthy heading into 2017. He might even be a better receiver than Bell, as he caught 80 balls and possesses the speed to run go routes for the Cardinals. He is an exceptional player, and Arizona should build its offense around him moving forward.

    A couple of runners who had a poor 2015 season also bounced back with exceptional years. Buffalo's LeSean McCoy was dominant when he wasn't battling injuries, looking like the player who was a star years ago in Philadelphia. He finished with his highest average per carry of his career (5.4), had his quickness back and was often the most explosive player on the field.

    Another former Eagles, DeMarco Murray of the Titans, also had a resurgent season. He helped Tennessee make a playoff push by dominating on the ground in one of the league's most physical running attacks. There might not have been a better downhill runner in 2016. Murray's ability to put his foot in the ground and get north and south is special. In addition, he's a complete back as a blocker and pass-catcher.

    Injuries also played a huge role in 2016. The Vikings' Adrian Peterson missed the majority of the season with a torn meniscus. Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs endured multiple setbacks as he worked his way back from a second ACL tear. Miami's Arian Foster retired because of injuries. Some younger players, like the Detroit Lions' Ameer Abdullah and Packers' Eddie Lacy, missed the majority of the year because they could not stay healthy.

    Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott established himself as a superstar, leading the league in rushing and helping carry the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC. The Chicago Bears look to have found an impact starter in fifth-round pick Jordan Howard, who finished second in the league in rushing behind Elliott.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Running Back: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Worst Running Back: Bobby Rainey, New York Giants
    • Best Inside Runner: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Worst Inside Runner: Bobby Rainey, New York Giants
    • Best Outside Runner: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
    • Worst Outside Runner: Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
    • Best Receiver: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
    • Worst Receiver: Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins
    • Best Blocker: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Worst Blocker: Bobby Rainey, New York Giants


    Grading Scale

    • In: Inside Running (Graded out of 25)
    • Out: Outside Running (Graded out of 25)
    • Rec: Receiving (Graded out of 20)
    • Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Running Back Rankings
    1Le'Veon BellPIT20.218.817.817.4680.3
    2David A. JohnsonARI19.618.717.917.1679.2
    3Ezekiel ElliottDAL20.118.916.317.2678.5
    4LeSean McCoyBUF19.218.316.716.5676.7
    5DeMarco MurrayTEN18.917.316.617.2675.9
    6Devonta FreemanATL18.817.416.616.3675.0
    7Spencer WareKC18.916.916.416.5674.6
    8Melvin GordonSD18.617.016.816.1674.4
    9C.J. AndersonDEN18.316.316.616.7673.9
    10Eddie LacyGB20.016.215.416.2673.8
    11Lamar MillerHOU18.117.516.315.9673.8
    12Theo RiddickDET16.617.417.615.9673.5
    13Jordan HowardCHI18.417.115.916.1673.5
    14Carlos HydeSF18.516.715.815.9673.0
    15LeGarrette BlountNE18.816.715.116.2672.8
    16Jonathan C. StewartCAR18.116.615.216.6672.5
    17Jay AjayiMIA18.216.915.815.6672.5
    18Todd GurleyLA17.516.616.316.1672.4
    19Latavius MurrayOAK17.616.816.016.0672.4
    20Mark IngramNO17.616.316.316.2672.4
    21Doug MartinTB17.916.115.816.6672.4
    22Ty MontgomeryGB17.816.416.715.3672.2
    23Tevin ColemanATL17.116.316.815.8672.0
    24Dion LewisNE17.317.016.315.3672.0
    25Ryan MathewsPHI17.816.515.715.9671.9
    26Giovani BernardCIN16.516.716.616.1671.9
    27Isaiah CrowellCLE17.616.116.115.9671.8
    28Frank GoreIND17.415.016.316.9671.6
    29Darren SprolesPHI17.016.216.715.7671.5
    30Jeremy HillCIN17.516.315.716.0671.5
    31DeAngelo WilliamsPIT17.
    32Bilal PowellNYJ16.716.216.415.9671.1
    33Thomas RawlsSEA17.116.115.816.0671.0
    34Matt JonesWAS18.015.715.316.0671.0
    35Christine MichaelSEA/GB17.315.915.516.1670.9
    36Duke JohnsonCLE16.116.416.915.4670.8
    37Robert KelleyWAS17.915.715.115.9670.6
    38Kenneth DixonBAL17.316.015.715.5670.5
    39Terrance WestBAL17.016.115.915.5670.5
    40Derrick HenryTEN17.215.815.715.7670.5
    41Rashad JenningsNYG16.815.215.916.2670.2
    42James WhiteNE15.616.116.915.6670.1
    43Matt ForteNYJ17.115.716.216.1670.1
    44Charles SimsTB16.115.616.415.9670.0
    45Chris ThompsonWAS15.416.816.515.2669.9
    46C.J. ProsiseSEA16.216.416.814.4669.8
    47DeAndre WashingtonOAK17.116.015.515.0669.6
    48Chris IvoryJAX16.715.315.615.9669.5
    49Jerick McKinnonMIN16.216.416.214.7669.5
    50Jacquizz RodgersTB17.215.615.415.1669.3
    51Jalen RichardOAK16.716.215.614.8669.3
    52Mike GillisleeBUF16.716.315.215.1669.2
    53Zach ZennerDET16.714.615.716.1669.1
    54James StarksGB16.115.115.816.0669.0
    55Tim HightowerNO16.415.815.515.2668.9
    56Wendell SmallwoodPHI17.015.715.215.0668.9
    57Alfred BlueHOU16.615.515.215.5668.8
    58T.J. YeldonJAX16.414.815.615.8668.5
    59Charcandrick WestKC15.715.615.815.3668.5
    60Matt AsiataMIN16.314.615.615.8668.3
    61Devontae BookerDEN16.615.315.415.1668.3
    62Paul PerkinsNYG16.315.715.814.5668.3
    63Jeremy LangfordCHI15.815.015.316.2668.3
    64Alfred MorrisDAL16.415.215.415.2668.1
    65Fozzy WhittakerCAR15.316.115.714.9668.1
    66Alex CollinsSEA16.114.615.715.3667.7
    67Ben CunnunghamLA15.115.415.615.3667.4
    68Damien WilliamsMIA15.515.115.815.0667.3
    69Kenyan DrakeMIA15.116.414.814.9667.2
    70Justin ForsettBAL/DET/DEN15.814.915.215.2667.1
    71Dwayne WashingtonDET15.914.914.915.3667.0
    72Denard RobinsonJAX15.
    73Peyton BarberTB15.815.015.214.8666.8
    74Robert TurbinIND15.514.615.515.1666.7
    75Kenjon BarnerPHI15.015.515.314.8666.7
    76Jonathan GrimesHOU15.514.515.115.1666.3
    77Shaun DraughnSF15.414.615.215.1666.2
    78Travaris CadetNO14.414.616.215.0666.2
    79Josh FergusonIND14.614.615.315.7666.1
    80Andre EllingtonARI15.014.515.615.0666.1
    81Lance DunbarDAL14.814.715.514.5665.5
    82Bobby RaineyNYG14.114.616.114.3665.1


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Ameer Abdullah
    • Danny Woodhead
    • Shane Vereen
    • Jamaal Charles
    • Rex Burkhead
    • Darren McFadden
    • Adrian Peterson
    • Arian Foster
    • Chris Johnson
    • DuJuan Harris
    • Jonathan Williams
    • Reggie Bush
    • Kenneth Farrow
    • Terron Ward
    • KaDeem Carey
    • Ronnie Hillman


5 of 22

    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Fullbacks are somewhat of a dying breed in the NFL, but several teams still utilize the position well.

    Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk has established himself as the most dynamic player at the position. He was Balitmore's best offensive player in 2016, with the ability to run, block and catch. He did everything he could to keep their playoff hopes alive in Week 16 against the Steelers, even chipping in his sole rushing score of the season, but the rest of his team couldn't stave off Pittsburgh. In the near future, he could become the highest-paid fullback in league history as he heads into free agency. 

    Jamize Olawale had a breakout season for the Raiders, helping them elevate their offense. His versatility in the run and pass game helped offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave lead one of the league's best dual-threat units. His speed changes the game for the Raiders, and he made a number of explosive plays that helped them earn their first playoff berth since 2002.

    Green Bay also found a versatile chess piece in Aaron Ripkowski, who helped them go on their run to the playoffs. He is an excellent runner and has operated like a true running back at many points this season. Keep an eye on him heading into the postseason.

    Many fullbacks also established themselves as solid lead blockers this season.

    Atlanta's Patrick DiMarco helped lead a dynamic running attack all season. The Bills' Jerome Felton was great at opening holes for LeSean McCoy. Jay Prosch of the Houston Texans has been a steady rock clearing space for Lamar Miller, helping bring some balance to a bad passing offense. Kansas City's Anthony Sherman has been consistent in a limited role for one of the league's more powerful run games. 

    A couple of rookies also had impressive years. While Denver's Andy Janovich ended up on injured reserve, he was awesome early in the season, immediately becoming one of the league's most physical lead blockers. The Chargers' Derek Watt also helped Melvin Gordon have a breakout season.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens 
    • Worst Fullback: Cory Harkey, Los Angeles Rams
    • Best Blocker: Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Blocker: Cory Harkey, Los Angeles Rams
    • Best Runner: Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Runner: Cory Harkey, Los Angeles Rams
    • Best Receiver: Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Receiver: Cory Harkey, Los Angeles Rams


    Grading Scale

    • Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 50)
    • Run: Running (Graded out of 25) 
    • Rec: Receiving (Graded out of 15)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Fullback Rankings
    1Kyle JuszczykBAL44.616.810.8476.1
    2Andy JanovichDEN43.916.19.7473.7
    3Aaron RipkowskiGB43.216.79.2473.1
    4Malcolm JohnsonCLE43.415.69.7472.7
    5John KuhnNO43.315.99.4472.7
    6Jamize OlawaleOAK42.916.09.6472.4
    7Patrick DiMarcoATL44.014.99.4472.4
    8Jay ProschHOU43.715.18.7471.6
    9Derek WattSD43.215.38.9471.4
    10Jerome FeltonBUF43.315.09.1471.3
    11James DevelinNE43.414.98.8471.1
    12Zach LineMIN42.615.59.0471.1
    13Mike TolbertCAR42.615.39.1471.0
    14Jalston FowlerTEN43.514.98.5471.0
    15Keith SmithDAL42.915.38.6470.8
    16Will TukuafuSEA43.314.38.2469.9
    17Anthony ShermanKC43.314.68.7469.7
    18Michael BurtonDET42.814.68.3469.7
    19Paul LasikeCHI42.714.28.4469.3
    20Cory HarkeyLA41.614.07.6467.1


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Marcel Reece
    • Dan Vitale
    • Roosevelt Nix

Wide Receivers

6 of 22

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Same ol', same ol' in the NFC this year as the stars continued to shine. Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and Mike Evans all had fantastic years. And Dez Bryant thrived in the second half of the year with rookie Dak Prescott. Jordy Nelson started the year off slowly after returning from his ACL injury, but he was red-hot in the second half of the season. Nelson's ability to separate versus some of the league's best cornerbacks is a reason why he and the Packers found success in their last six games. 

    One of the more surprising performances in the NFC was third-year player Davante Adams. After a miserable start to his career, Adams broke out with nearly 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Another surprise was Cameron Meredith for the Chicago Bears. After the Bears lost Kevin White to injury and Alshon Jeffery to suspension, Meredith was able to step in and perform like a No. 1 receiver when called upon. His combination of size, speed and ability to win in the air quickly earned him more snaps, and he finished with 888 receiving yards and five total touchdowns.

    Michael Thomas led all rookies in catches, yards and touchdowns and played like a player who should've been drafted higher than the sixth WR in the 2016 draft. His ability to create quick separation combined with his strong hands allowed him to quickly become one of Drew Brees' favorite targets.

    Over in the AFC, some familiar names dominated the skies for their teams. Julian Edelman turned in another solid performance this year, catching passes from three different quarterbacks. It certainly helps when Tom Brady is one of those QBs, but Edelman's ability to run nearly the entire route tree—and to operate both in the middle of the field and on the sidelines—makes him a critical component of the New England offense.

    In similar fashion, Antonio Brown is the central component of what Pittsburgh does on offense, and his ability after the catch is a big reason why. The Steelers like to get him involved and get him touches early in games, often using screens and short passes to get him going. In addition, the play strength he displayed on the game-winning touchdown against the Ravens on Christmas night was most impressive.

    T.Y. Hilton enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016, leading the league in receiving yards. He caught 91 passes for 1,448 yards and six touchdowns and was effective against both zone and man coverage. Hilton is a good route-runner, quick out of his breaks and generally sound both at the catch point and after the reception. While the Broncos failed to return to the playoffs a year after winning the Super Bowl, both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were strong in 2016.

    Down in Miami, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills formed a formidable trio for the Dolphins, helping Miami get back to the playoffs. The three players worked well in concert and provided Miami with a number of options in the passing game. Finally, after a hot start, the Oakland Raiders slowed down with the injury to Derek Carr, but Amari Cooper remains one of the better route-runners in the league, and Michael Crabtree is dangerous every time he catches the ball in space.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Wide Receiver: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Worst Wide Receiver: Bradley Marquez, Los Angeles Rams
    • Best Route-Runner: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Worst Route-Runner: Lucky Whitehead, Dallas Cowboys
    • Best Hands: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Worst Hands: Bradley Marquez, Los Angeles Rams
    • Best After the Catch: Ty Montgomery
    • Worst After the Catch: Bradley Marquez, Los Angeles Rams
    • Best Blocker: Seth Roberts, Oakland Raiders
    • Worst Blocker: Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams


    Grading Scale

    • Route: Route Running (Graded out of 25)
    • Hands: Hands (Graded out of 25)
    • YAC: Yards After Catch (Graded out of 20)
    • Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Wide Receiver Rankings
    1A.J. GreenCIN21.220.413.811.6975.8
    2Julio JonesATL19.919.414.412.6975.1
    3Odell Beckham Jr.NYG19.718.614.511.8973.4
    4Julian EdelmanNE19.318.814.012.1973.1
    5Antonio BrownPIT19.719.513.511.1972.7
    6T.Y. HiltonIND19.718.913.211.3972.0
    7Mike EvansTB18.918.813.511.8971.9
    8Dez BryantDAL18.918.613.411.9971.7
    9Demaryius ThomasDEN18.819.112.312.6971.6
    10Jarvis LandryMIA18.418.113.412.9971.6
    11Larry FitzgeraldARI18.118.412.813.3971.6
    12Jordy NelsonGB18.817.913.612.0971.1
    13Emmanuel SandersDEN19.118.912.211.7970.7
    14Michael ThomasNO18.218.513.511.4970.5
    15Doug BaldwinSEA18.317.813.411.8970.1
    16Michael CrabtreeOAK18.918.612.610.9970.0
    17Stefon DiggsMIN18.
    18Amari CooperOAK18.317.913.111.7969.9
    19Golden TateDET17.917.614.311.1969.8
    20Steve Smith Sr.BAL17.918.612.212.2969.7
    21Terrelle PryorCLE18.318.212.212.1969.7
    22DeAndre HopkinsHOU19.118.512.211.0969.7
    23Brandon MarshallNYJ18.918.112.111.4969.4
    24Mike WallaceBAL18.318.113.210.9969.3
    25Alshon JefferyCHI17.617.713.211.9969.2
    26Cole BeasleyDAL18.417.413.810.4968.9
    27Quincy EnunwaNYJ17.617.612.012.9968.9
    28Pierre GarconWAS17.617.413.711.3968.8
    29Brandon LaFellCIN17.917.511.912.4968.5
    30Danny AmendolaNE17.817.612.611.8968.5
    31Sammy WatkinsBUF18.017.611.512.6968.5
    32DeSean JacksonWAS17.717.214.310.3968.4
    33Marqise LeeJAX17.918.012.311.1968.3
    34Jamison CrowderWAS17.517.213.910.8968.3
    35Brandin CooksNO17.817.213.510.8968.2
    36Mohamed SanuATL17.317.013.411.5968.0
    37Tyrell WilliamsSD17.717.712.311.3968.0
    38Allen RobinsonJAX18.
    39Jeremy MaclinKC17.517.412.411.7967.8
    40Kenny BrittLA17.317.113.211.3967.8
    41Willie SneadNO17.517.013.410.9967.6
    42Davante AdamsGB17.417.213.210.9967.6
    43Kelvin BenjaminCAR16.417.413.011.7967.4
    44Marvin JonesDET16.917.212.911.5967.3
    45Randall CobbGB17.
    46Rishard MathewsTEN17.417.911.611.5967.3
    47Ty MontgomeryGB16.515.815.810.5967.3
    48Robert WoodsBUF17.516.811.812.2967.1
    49Sterling ShepardNYG17.316.912.811.1967.0
    50Jordan MatthewsPHI17.416.912.411.4967.0
    51Ted GinnCAR17.116.913.810.3966.9
    52Seth RobertsOAK16.415.812.113.8966.9
    53Adam ThielenMIN17.116.912.811.3966.9
    54Travis BenjaminSD17.317.012.411.4966.9
    55Donte MoncriefIND17.517.311.911.4966.9
    56Cameron MeredithCHI16.916.113.111.8966.7
    57DeVante ParkerMIA16.717.711.811.4966.5
    58Dontrelle InmanSD17.117.211.611.6966.4
    59Tavon AustinLA16.916.314.310.1966.3
    60Anquan BoldinDET16.217.211.912.1966.3
    61Allen HurnsJAX17.516.612.211.1966.2
    62Will FullerHOU17.116.912.111.1966.1
    63Eddie RoyalCHI16.016.313.911.0966.0
    64Chris HoganNE16.916.011.812.3965.9
    65Eli RogersPIT17.017.111.311.6965.8
    66Kenny StillsMIA17.216.811.711.3965.8
    67Corey ColemanCLE16.316.811.811.9965.6
    68Tyreek HillKC16.416.412.811.1965.6
    69Taylor GabrielATL15.916.213.510.8965.4
    70Marquise GoodwinBUF16.416.212.111.6965.4
    71Adam HumphriesTB16.816.312.610.7965.3
    72Michael FloydARI/NE16.516.211.911.7965.2
    73Tajae SharpeTEN16.816.811.710.9965.1
    74Tyler BoydCIN16.816.311.411.3964.6
    75Chris ConleyKC16.516.011.411.8964.6
    76John BrownARI16.215.812.411.2964.5
    77Terrance WilliamsDAL16.415.811.911.5964.4
    78Breshad PerrimanBAL15.916.411.511.8964.4
    79Cordarrelle PattersonMIN15.415.613.411.0964.4
    80Tyler LockettSEA16.715.712.810.3964.3
    81Andrew HawkinsCLE16.416.111.311.6964.3
    82Robby AndersonNYJ16.416.711.210.9964.2
    83Sammie CoatesPIT16.716.011.611.1964.2
    84Phillip DorsettIND16.115.911.711.4964.1
    85Jeremy KerleySF15.815.912.411.0964.0
    86Victor CruzNYG16.115.912.111.1964.0
    87Cobi HamiltonPIT15.715.511.012.7964.0
    88Jaron BrownARI16.016.311.611.4964.0
    89J.J. NelsonARI16.715.812.410.2963.9
    90Brian QuickLA15.815.912.610.8963.9
    91Malcolm MitchellNE15.815.611.611.7963.5
    92Bryan WaltersJAX16.315.711.311.1963.4
    93Jermaine KearseSEA15.915.612.110.8963.3
    94Quinton PattonSF15.915.311.811.3963.1
    95Jalin MarshallNYJ16.315.711.011.3963.1
    96Dorial Green-BeckhamPHI15.815.012.710.6963.0
    97Nelson AgholorPHI15.915.411.910.8962.9
    98Russell ShepardTB14.916.211.910.9962.8
    99Devin FunchessCAR15.415.511.911.1962.8
    100Jordan NorwoodDEN16.114.811.111.9962.7
    101Kendall WrightTEN15.815.711.310.9962.7
    102Kamar AikenBAL15.915.211.311.4962.6
    103Aldrick RobinsonATL14.815.012.411.2962.5
    104Cecil ShortsTB15.715.911.310.7962.4
    105Torrey SmithSF15.515.611.311.2962.3
    106Albert WilsonKC15.515.311.211.4962.3
    107Andre JohnsonTEN15.816.310.411.1962.3
    108Deonte ThompsonCHI14.714.812.611.1962.2
    109Chester RogersIND16.015.311.210.8962.2
    110Justin HardyATL14.815.112.111.3962.2
    111Braxton MillerHOU15.215.511.211.4962.1
    112Andre HolmesOAK14.614.911.312.1961.7
    113Ricardo LouisCLE15.814.811.211.0961.7
    114Jaelen StrongHOU15.015.610.312.0961.6
    115Cody CoreCIN15.
    116Harry DouglasTEN15.
    117Darrius Heyward-BeyPIT15.914.511.510.6961.4
    118Brice ButlerDAL14.914.911.411.3961.3
    119Josh HuffPHI/TB15.014.812.010.6961.1
    120Charone PeakeNYJ15.314.811.310.7961.0
    121Justin HunterBUF15.314.911.010.8961.0
    122Griff WhalenSD14.814.611.211.4961.0
    123Arrelious BennJAX14.715.011.410.9960.9
    124Cody LatimerDEN14.914.510.911.5960.7
    125Keith MumpheryHOU14.614.510.911.7960.7
    126Philly BrownCAR14.114.612.010.9960.4
    127Brandon ColemanNO14.414.910.911.3960.4
    128Charles D. JohnsonMIN14.614.511.610.7960.3
    129Jordan TaylorDEN14.714.710.910.9960.2
    130Bennie FowlerDEN14.514.510.911.1960.0
    131Brandon TateBUF14.514.811.310.4960.0
    132Walter PowellBUF14.614.810.511.1960.0
    133Chris MooreBAL14.514.111.111.4959.9
    134Josh BellamyCHI14.813.411.910.8959.8
    135Leonte CarrooMIA14.514.310.711.3959.7
    136Rod StreaterSF14.514.311.310.6959.6
    137Paul RichardsonSEA14.514.411.410.3959.5
    138Freddie MartinoTB14.314.311.110.7959.4
    139James WrightCIN14.614.410.510.9959.4
    140Rashard HigginsCLE14.114.611.010.6959.2
    141Johnny HoltonOAK13.313.411.711.7959.1
    142Pharoh CooperLA14.314.211.310.2959.1
    143Mike ThomasLA14.414.011.310.1958.9
    144Alex EricksonCIN14.114.110.710.9958.9
    145De'Anthony ThomasKC14.113.911.010.9958.9
    146Roger LewisNYG15.014.210.310.3958.8
    147Tanner McEvoySEA13.413.710.911.4958.4
    148Ryan GrantWAS14.013.810.811.0958.4
    149Rashad GreeneJAX13.714.311.310.3958.3
    150Trevor DavisGB14.114.010.310.7958.1
    151Andre RobertsDET13.414.311.410.1958.1
    152Lucky WhiteheadDAL12.913.010.512.2957.5
    153Aaron BurbridgeSF13.313.510.910.8957.4
    154Matt SlaterNE13.413.211.011.0957.4
    155Bradley MarquezLA13.012.810.111.6956.4


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Keenan Allen
    • Eric Decker
    • Kevin White
    • Geronimo Allison
    • Vincent Jackson
    • Josh Doctson
    • Markus Wheaton
    • Jeff Janis
    • Bryce Treggs
    • Laquon Treadwell
    • DeAndre Smelter

Tight Ends

7 of 22

    Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images

    On the AFC side of the ledger, Travis Kelce was the main story at the tight end position. The third-round draft pick from the University of Cincinnati enjoyed a career season, catching 85 passes for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns. He remains a difficult matchup for defenses, and the Chiefs exploit his ability in space. They often line him up isolated one side of the field, where they can get him the football on the perimeter to take advantage of his ability after the catch. 

    Delanie Walker enjoyed a solid year for the Titans, serving as a safe outlet option for quarterback Marcus Mariota and later Matt Cassel. Walker is adept at a number of routes in the passing tree and showed some ability after the catch particularly with play strength. He was a good blocker for the Titans in their running game and when Tennessee would line up using 13 personnel.

    Two other tight ends showed quality development in the AFC—Jack Doyle with the Colts and Charles Clay with the Bills. Clay became a focal point of the Buffalo offense down the stretch, and Doyle was everywhere for the Colts, often lining up in the backfield to serve as a lead blocker. And Andrew Luck trusted Doyle as a receiver. His touchdown catch to beat the Jaguars in the closing minutes of the season exemplifies that.

    In San Diego, Antonio Gates enjoyed another productive year, but Hunter Henry might be the player to watch going forward. The rookie caught 36 passes for 478 yards but also caught eight touchdowns, highlighting his ability in the red zone. With the 36-year-old Gates near the end of his career, it seems the Chargers have their tight end of the future in Henry.

    In the NFC, Jordan Reed was on his way to a career year before getting injured. The Washington tight end is a mismatch in every game, as he has the quickness and the receiving ability of a wideout but the body of a tight end. His ability to make plays after the catch separates him from the rest of the league.

    By the end of the 2016 season, Zach Ertz was playing as well as just about any tight end in the league. He had four games this season where he caught at least eight passes and gave rookie quarterback Carson Wentz a reliable option in the middle of the field. Despite not being a well-rounded blocker, Ertz put on a second-half performance that has to be encouraging for the Eagles.

    Veterans Greg Olsen and Jason Witten both had nice years as do-it-all players in their respective offenses. Jimmy Graham found his way in the Seahawks offense this year, as the former Miami (Fla.) product set a career high in yards per catch (14.2). Graham made numerous plays down the field and was able to explode after the catch. He also improved as a blocker, which has been a weakness of his.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Worst Tight End: Gavin Escobar, Dallas Cowboys
    • Best Route-Runner: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Worst Route-Runner: Khari Lee, Detroit Lions
    • Best Hands: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Worst Hands: Niles Paul, Washington Redskins
    • Best After the Catch: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
    • Worst After the Catch: Gavin Escobar, Dallas Cowboys
    • Best Blocker: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
    • Worst Blocker: Clay Harbor, New England Patriots


    Grading Scale

    • Route: Route Running (Graded out of 20)
    • Hands: Hands (Graded out of 25)
    • YAC: Yards After Catch (Graded out of 20)
    • Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 25)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Tight End Rankings
    1Travis KelceKC16.119.013.617.8672.5
    2Rob GronkowskiNE15.618.813.618.4672.4
    3Jordan ReedWAS15.718.315.017.0672.1
    4Jimmy GrahamSEA15.618.213.917.3670.9
    5Greg OlsenCAR15.418.413.417.4670.7
    6Kyle RudolphMIN14.917.212.918.7669.7
    7Martellus BennettNE14.217.513.118.2668.9
    8Eric EbronDET15.317.214.016.3668.8
    9Jason WittenDAL14.717.312.617.9668.5
    10Tyler EifertCIN14.018.112.318.1668.5
    11Zach ErtzPHI14.917.613.416.4668.4
    12Zach MillerCHI14.317.312.617.8668.0
    13Charles ClayBUF14.317.311.918.1667.7
    14Antonio GatesSD14.317.412.517.5667.6
    15Cameron BrateTB14.317.113.116.9667.4
    16Dennis PittaBAL13.917.912.117.0666.9
    17Delanie WalkerTEN14.117.512.316.9666.9
    18Jack DoyleIND13.417.111.818.2666.5
    19Vernon DavisWAS14.115.512.917.6666.0
    20Jared CookGB13.815.913.317.0666.0
    21C.J. FiedorowiczHOU13.617.111.317.8665.8
    22Hunter HenrySD13.716.811.317.7665.5
    23Clive WalfordOAK13.316.012.117.9665.4
    24Will TyeNYG13.316.512.417.1665.3
    25Coby FleenerNO14.116.612.316.4665.3
    26Ladarius GreenPIT12.816.812.217.3665.2
    27Lance KendricksLA14.115.812.117.1665.1
    28Virgil GreenDEN13.116.011.818.2665.1
    29Jacob TammeATL13.416.012.117.4665.0
    30CJ UzomahCIN13.016.712.017.2664.9
    31Jesse JamesPIT13.315.811.518.3664.9
    32Gary BarnidgeCLE13.516.311.417.6664.8
    33Vance McDonaldSF13.515.812.317.1664.7
    34Ryan GriffinHOU13.316.411.517.4664.7
    35Dwayne AllenIND13.516.511.916.6664.5
    36Austin Seferian-JenkinsTB/NYJ12.815.412.117.3663.8
    37Julius ThomasJAX13.216.211.416.8663.7
    38Richard RodgersGB13.515.312.116.6663.5
    39Daniel BrownCHI13.515.512.316.2663.5
    40Dion SimsMIA12.415.411.218.0663.0
    41Larry DonnellNYG13.115.011.317.3662.7
    42Luke WillsonSEA12.614.512.017.3662.4
    43John PhillipsDEN12.614.611.117.8662.2
    44Brent CelekPHI12.614.711.517.3662.2
    45Crockett GillmoreBAL12.714.710.418.0661.9
    46Marcedes LewisJAX12.515.211.316.8661.8
    47Ben KoyackJAX11.814.810.918.1661.6
    48Josh HillNO12.615.011.616.3661.5
    49Anthony FasanoTEN11.714.411.018.3661.4
    50Jerell AdamsNYG12.815.111.715.9661.4
    51Jermaine GreshamARI12.614.911.616.3661.3
    52Garrett CelekSF12.614.411.616.6661.3
    53Trey BurtonPHI13.214.611.615.7661.2
    54Demetrius HarrisKC12.114.711.116.8660.8
    55Xavier GrimblePIT12.214.911.216.3660.7
    56Kellen DavisNYJ12.114.411.017.0660.5
    57Austin HooperATL12.114.411.116.9660.4
    58Tyler KroftCIN11.414.710.617.6660.4
    59Levine ToiloloATL11.413.611.118.2660.3
    60David JohnsonPIT11.614.311.117.1660.1
    61Nick O'LearyBUF11.914.110.717.5660.1
    62Jeff HeuermanDEN11.714.510.717.1660.1
    63Mychal RiveraOAK12.014.810.816.5660.1
    64Ed DicksonCAR12.314.411.116.3660.1
    65Alex EllisJAX11.
    66Geoff SwaimDAL11.513.810.518.1659.9
    67Stephen AndersonHOU12.114.811.415.5659.8
    68Ryan HewittCIN11.514.110.617.3659.5
    69Brandon BostickNYJ11.514.110.916.9659.5
    70Marqueis GrayMIA12.014.310.816.4659.5
    71Seth DeValveCLE11.714.810.916.1659.4
    72Eric TomlinsonNYJ11.013.811.017.5659.3
    73Matt LengelNE11.314.511.016.5659.3
    74AJ DerbyNE/DEN11.614.610.816.2659.1
    75Darren WallerBAL11.314.310.816.8659.1
    76Erik SwoopesIND11.914.410.716.1659.1
    77Nick VannettSEA11.813.811.016.3659.0
    78Darren FellsARI11.613.911.116.3658.9
    79Phillip SupernawTEN11.413.610.617.2658.9
    80Tyler HigbeeLA11.514.010.916.4658.8
    81Luke StockerTB10.913.311.017.6658.8
    82Rhett EllisonMIN11.213.710.717.0658.6
    83Dominique JonesMIA11.414.410.616.2658.6
    84Ben BrauneckerCHI11.814.611.015.2658.6
    85Nick BoyleBAL11.113.910.616.6658.3
    86Sean McGrathSD11.413.510.916.3658.1
    87Randall TelferCLE11.113.810.516.5657.8
    88Brandon MyersTB11.313.310.716.4657.7
    89Brandon WilliamsSEA11.213.310.516.5657.5
    90Niles PaulWAS11.012.710.717.0657.4
    91Logan PaulsonCHI10.913.110.416.9657.3
    92James O'ShaughnessyKC10.713.910.616.1657.3
    93Khari LeeDET10.313.210.317.0656.8
    94Justin PerilloGB11.113.410.915.1656.6
    95Clay HarborNE11.013.210.614.4655.2
    96Gavin EscobarDAL10.912.910.314.8654.9


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Lee Smith
    • Jace Amaro
    • Jordan Cameron
    • Matthew Mulligan
    • Derek Carrier
    • David Morgan II
    • Maxx Williams
    • MyCole Pruitt
    • Blake Bell
    • Cory Harkey

Left Tackles

8 of 22

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The 2016 regular season saw familiar names sit atop the NFL1000 left tackle rankings, but some not-so-common names emerged as well. As mentioned midseason, when we think about the state of the league's offensive line play and specifically left tackle, there are four elite players who come to mind: Cleveland's Joe Thomas, Philadelphia's Jason Peters, Washington's Trent Williams and Dallas' Tyron Smith. But you could make the argument to add a fifth name to the mix: Green Bay's David Bakhtiari.

    Bakhtiari has been arguably one of the most impressive performers of the 2016 season, specifically because of his flawless pass protection. To put his effort into perspective, in 16 games, Bakhtiari only surrendered four sacks and 16 quarterback hurries. His dynamic season was enough to have him named as a first alternate to the Pro Bowl. 

    Smith and Williams are reaching the tops of their games and have not yet turned 30 years old. Both NFC East left tackles dominated when on the field and are two of three NFC East tackles selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl.

    Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Thomas and 34-year-old Peters have played 10 and 13 seasons, respectively, but have yet to show any signs of overall decline and were both named to the Pro Bowl. Oakland's Donald Penn turned in an outstanding season, surrendering only one sack in 16 games. Penn's 2016 regular-season efforts earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl as an AFC representative.

    Tennessee Titans 2014 first-round pick Taylor Lewan had a good season and has cemented himself as an emerging star of the position. Lewan was solid in all aspects, specifically playing with a controlled edge that drives him to finish every play with a purpose in both pass protection and in the running game. Lewan's breakout campaign resulted in the Michigan Man being named to his first Pro Bowl in just his third season.

    Rookies Ronnie Stanley of the Baltimore Ravens and Taylor Decker of the Detroit Lions both continued to build their games and improve weekly, showing consistency in technique and play speed. The two first-round selections look like mainstays for their respective ballclubs.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Left Tackle: Trent Williams, Washington Redskins
    • Worst Left Tackle: Bradley Sowell, Seattle Seahawks
    • Best Pass-Blocker: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers
    • Worst Pass-Blocker: Bradley Sowell, Seattle Seahawks
    • Best Run-Blocker: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
    • Worst Run-Blocker: Bradley Sowell, Seattle Seahawks
    • Most Powerful: Trent Williams, Washington Redskins
    • Least Powerful: George Fant, Seattle Seahawks
    • Most Agile: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
    • Least Agile: Chris Hairston, San Diego Chargers


    Grading Scale

    • Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Blocking (Graded out of 25)
    • Power: Power (Graded out of 20)
    • Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Left Tackle Rankings
    1Trent WilliamsWAS19.719.817.817.8883.1
    2Tyron SmithDAL19.720.417.617.3883.0
    3Jason PetersPHI19.419.317.216.8880.6
    4David BakhtiariGB20.418.915.616.9879.9
    5Joe ThomasCLE19.918.415.118.4879.7
    6Cordy GlennBUF19.419.516.615.5878.9
    7Donald PennOAK19.019.416.214.6877.3
    8Ty NsekheWAS19.419.014.815.0876.2
    9Taylor LewanTEN18.518.815.315.4876.1
    10Joe StaleySF18.219.115.515.2876.0
    11Andrew WhitworthCIN19.118.515.514.8875.9
    12Jake MatthewsATL18.518.815.414.8875.4
    13Taylor DeckerDET18.318.615.015.4875.4
    14Terron ArmsteadNO19.716.315.016.0875.0
    15Russell OkungDEN18.218.714.815.2874.9
    16Eric FisherKC17.918.915.414.7874.8
    17Duane BrownHOU18.018.615.814.4874.8
    18Nate SolderNE18.418.515.114.5874.5
    19Ronnie StanleyBAL18.417.914.315.4874.1
    20Cyrus KouandjioBUF18.117.914.615.1873.7
    21Jared VeldheerARI17.517.615.114.6872.9
    22Andrus PeatNO17.418.115.113.8872.4
    23Mike RemmersCAR17.
    24Anthony CastonzoIND17.417.614.414.7872.1
    25Branden AlbertMIA17.817.014.115.0871.9
    26King DunlapSD17.517.814.314.2871.8
    27Charles Leno Jr.CHI17.216.914.315.3871.6
    28Alejandro VillanuevaPIT17.317.613.914.6871.4
    29Kelvin BeachumJAX17.317.314.613.9871.1
    30Ereck FlowersNYG16.317.415.414.0871.1
    31Donovan SmithTB16.617.315.613.6871.1
    32Greg RobinsonLA16.216.916.013.6870.8
    33Ryan CladyNYJ16.916.513.914.6869.9
    34Chris ClarkHOU15.817.414.413.6869.2
    35Ben IjalanaNYJ16.417.014.613.0869.0
    36John WetzelARI16.916.713.713.7869.0
    37TJ ClemmingsMIN14.916.814.213.0866.9
    38George FantSEA15.316.112.514.2866.1
    39Chris HairstonSD15.216.413.412.6865.6
    40Bradley SowellSEA14.516.013.213.7865.3


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Luke Joeckel
    • Laremy Tunsil
    • Cedric Ogbuehi
    • Vadal Alexander
    • DJ Humphries
    • Rodger Saffold
    • Michael Oher
    • Jake Fisher
    • Jason Spriggs
    • Matt Kalil
    • Jake Long
    • Dennis Kelly

Right Tackles

9 of 22

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    There were a handful of consistently outstanding performers at right tackle during the 2016 regular season. Despite not having the sexy tag of "left tackle", you could argue the top four or five right tackles are very good to elite-level players and among the best tackles in football regardless of right or left designation.

    Green Bay Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga played tremendous football all season.  He stayed fairly healthy this season, something he has struggled to do in his seven seasons as a pro. 

    Kansas City's Mitchell Schwartz graded out as the top performer at right tackle multiple times. Schwartz played through injury the entire first half of the season but didn't miss any action. When he was finally healthy down the stretch, the Chiefs were the beneficiaries.

    Lane Johnson was the best right tackle in the NFL until he was suspended 10 games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Johnson returned for the final two games of the season and picked up right where he left off, which had to have been an encouraging sign for the Eagles.

    Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin was the top rookie right tackle this season. He had his moments, but the Titans coaching staff has been smart to scheme to help him in protection. When left on an island, he proved to be stout in pass protection by picking his spots to set aggressively and stop pass-rushers before they get started.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Right Tackle: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Worst Right Tackle: Ty Sambrailo, Denver Broncos
    • Best Pass-Blocker: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Worst Pass-Blocker: Ty Sambrailo, Denver Broncos
    • Best Run-Blocker: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Worst Run-Blocker: Ty Sambrailo, Denver Broncos
    • Most Powerful: Trenton Brown, San Francisco 49ers
    • Least Powerful: Ty Sambrailo, Denver Broncos
    • Most Agile: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Least Agile: Ty Sambrailo, Denver Broncos


    Grading Scale

    • Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Blocking (Graded out of 25)
    • Power: Power (Graded out of 20)
    • Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Right Tackle Rankings
    1Lane JohnsonPHI20.320.716.017.0781.0
    2Bryan BulagaGB20.119.816.315.6778.7
    3Marcus GilbertPIT19.819.616.015.7778.1
    4Mitchell SchwartzKC19.519.515.315.7776.9
    5Zach StriefNO18.720.416.114.1776.3
    6Ryan SchraederATL18.419.315.915.0775.6
    7Riley ReiffDET17.919.816.014.9775.5
    8Morgan MosesWAS18.518.915.615.1775.1
    9Demar DotsonTB18.517.814.816.0774.1
    10Derek NewtonHOU17.418.815.215.2773.6
    11Trenton BrownSF17.718.716.313.7773.3
    12Jack ConklinTEN17.619.015.814.0773.3
    13Doug FreeDAL17.519.215.513.8772.9
    14Marcus CannonNE17.918.215.314.5772.8
    15Ben IjalanaNYJ17.618.115.014.6772.4
    16Bobby MassieCHI17.717.414.914.9771.9
    17Jermey ParnellJAX17.417.614.814.7771.5
    18Ja'Wuan JamesMIA17.118.014.813.9770.8
    19Jordan MillsBUF17.118.214.913.6770.8
    20Rob HavensteinLA17.317.714.813.9770.7
    21Ricky WagnerBAL17.617.714.513.9770.6
    22Eric WinstonCIN17.817.514.313.8770.5
    23Joe BarksdaleSD16.917.914.414.1770.3
    24Austin HowardOAK16.718.215.313.0770.2
    25Daryl WilliamsCAR17.417.314.713.6770.0
    26Halapoulivaati VaitaiPHI17.017.514.813.7770.0
    27Austin PasztorCLE16.617.914.513.9769.8
    28Donald StephensonDEN16.716.814.814.4769.8
    29Bobby HartNYG17.416.813.414.7769.3
    30D.J. HumphriesARI16.516.713.914.4768.5
    31Joe ReitzIND16.017.614.413.4768.4
    32Garry GilliamSEA16.116.314.214.6768.2
    33Brent QvaleNYJ16.517.014.313.3768.2
    34Chris ClarkHOU16.317.513.913.0767.6
    35Cedric OgbuehiCIN15.716.113.614.6766.9
    36Joe HaegIND15.917.013.613.3766.7
    37Jeremiah SirlesMIN15.917.013.713.0766.6
    38Ty SambrailoDEN14.415.813.412.8763.4


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Senio Kelemete
    • Mike Remmers
    • Rodger Saffold
    • Menelik Watson
    • Jake Fisher
    • Allen Barbre
    • Cam Fleming
    • Cam Erving
    • Vadal Alexander
    • Trai Turner
    • Earl Watford
    • Marshall Newhouse
    • Breno Giacomini
    • Andre Smith Jr.
    • Jason Spriggs
    • Isaac Seumalo
    • Bradley Sowell
    • Gosder Cherilus
    • James Hurst
    • T.J. Clemmings
    • Ulrick John

Offensive Guards

10 of 22

    Larry French/Getty Images

    Baltimore's Marshal Yanda was the MVP among offensive guards this season. The veteran battled through some injuries, but he only missed three games. Yanda's dominance and his consistency in pass protection are unmatched. He didn't lead the league in eye-popping knockbacks, but his hand placement and footwork allow him to counter almost anything opposing defenders try to throw at him.

    Not only that, but his versatility was huge for the Ravens. When Yanda returned from his injury in Week 11, the Ravens had a huge hole at left guard. So they flipped Yanda there from his usual right guard spot. This allowed Vladimir Ducasse to stay at right guard, where he was playing pretty well. The Ravens kept the pair there for the rest of the season, even after Alex Lewis—Week 1's left guard—got healthy.

    Between his mastery of technique and his upper-body strength, Yanda is a versatile and vital piece in the Ravens offense, and his consistency is impressive. 


    Top Scorers

    • Top Offensive Guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Offensive Guard: Alvin Bailey, Cleveland Browns
    • Best Pass-Blocker: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Pass-Blocker: Germain Ifedi, Seattle Seahawks
    • Best Run-Blocker: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Run-Blocker: Alvin Bailey, Cleveland Browns
    • Most Powerful: Trai Turner, Carolina Panthers
    • Least Powerful: Joe Thuney, New England Patriots
    • Most Agile: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns
    • Least Agile: Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints


    Grading Scale

    • Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Blocking (Graded out of 25)
    • Power: Power (Graded out of 20)
    • Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Offensive Guard Rankings
    1Marshal YandaBAL18.718.417.615.0777.0
    2Josh SittonCHI18.018.017.515.5776.0
    3Zack MartinDAL17.618.317.315.2775.4
    4Joel BitonioCLE17.816.616.217.2775.0
    5Kyle LongCHI17.617.316.016.9774.7
    6Richie IncognitoBUF17.718.117.714.3774.7
    7Kelechi OsemeleOAK17.118.117.814.2774.2
    8T.J. LangGB17.817.016.715.3774.0
    9Andrew NorwellCAR17.017.517.114.8773.0
    10Brandon BrooksPHI17.216.516.316.4773.0
    11Justin PughNYG17.416.916.315.8773.0
    12Allen BarbrePHI16.917.115.616.3772.9
    13Jack MewhortIND17.516.616.714.7772.5
    14David DeCastroPIT16.916.316.216.1772.4
    15Andy LevitreATL17.316.916.914.1772.0
    16Ali MarpetTB16.316.616.316.2772.0
    17Gabe JacksonOAK16.717.417.314.0772.0
    18Brandon ScherffWAS16.616.416.415.2772.0
    19Mike IupatiARI17.516.617.114.0772.0
    20Trai TurnerCAR16.017.217.914.1772.0
    21Kevin ZeitlerCIN16.916.417.114.4772.0
    22John GrecoCLE16.117.116.514.7771.0
    23Ronald LearyDAL16.417.116.714.1771.2
    24Ramon FosterPIT17.116.417.113.5771.0
    25John MillerBUF15.517.316.914.4771.1
    26Laremy TunsilMIA16.516.215.316.1771.1
    27Larry WarfordDET16.216.617.013.8771.0
    28Clint BolingCIN16.616.116.515.0771.0
    29Quinton SpainTEN15.917.917.413.2771.0
    30Alex BooneMIN16.116.016.515.2771.0
    31James CarpenterNYJ16.616.616.913.4770.4
    32Orlando FranklinSD15.916.917.413.1770.4
    33Lane TaylorGB17.115.315.315.6770.4
    34Andrew TillerSF16.417.116.913.0770.4
    35Alex LewisBAL17.415.215.215.4770.0
    36Eric KushCHI16.016.616.614.0770.2
    37Chris ChesterATL15.616.916.513.9770.0
    38Shaq MasonNE15.316.316.115.2770.0
    39Laurent Duvernay-TardifKC16.514.814.416.9769.6
    40Andrus PeatNO14.616.815.615.4769.4
    41Josh KlineTEN16.316.015.914.0769.2
    42Max GarciaDEN15.916.516.813.0769.2
    43Kevin PamphileTB16.115.916.313.8769.2
    44Xavier Su'a-FiloHOU14.516.516.115.0769.1
    45Mark GlowinskiSEA14.615.815.616.0769.0
    46Rodger SaffoldLA16.015.515.914.6769.0
    47Vladimir DucasseBAL16.316.316.413.0769.0
    48Chris ReedJAX15.816.016.413.8769.0
    49Joe ThuneyNE15.415.314.316.9768.8
    50Tim LelitoNO15.416.416.013.8768.6
    51Graham GlascowDET15.815.615.914.3768.5
    52Stefen WisniewskiPHI16.115.916.013.5768.5
    53Brian WintersNYJ16.014.815.714.9768.5
    54Laken TomlinsonDET15.615.015.615.1768.4
    55Senio KelemeteNO14.916.516.513.4768.3
    56Jahri EvansNO16.016.116.612.6768.0
    57Denzelle GoodIND15.015.916.813.5768.2
    58Shawn LauvaoWAS15.315.916.613.4768.1
    59D.J. FlukerSD15.116.116.713.4768.0
    60Zane BeadlesSF15.615.215.215.1768.0
    61Zach FultonKC15.715.916.313.0767.9
    62Ted LarsenCHI15.915.615.713.7767.9
    63John JerryNYG15.815.316.313.4767.8
    64Jeff AllenHOU14.716.116.912.7767.5
    65Spencer DrangoCLE14.815.516.114.1767.5
    66Joe HaegIND14.914.814.616.1767.3
    67A.J. CannJAX14.715.916.413.3767.3
    68Jermon BushrodMIA14.814.915.914.5767.1
    69Michael SchofieldDEN15.514.614.715.1767.0
    70Jonotthan HarrisonIND14.515.616.912.9767.0
    71Joshua GarnettSF14.515.316.413.5766.7
    72Brandon FuscoMIN15.214.515.214.6766.5
    73Cody WichmannLA15.714.414.714.7766.5
    74Patrick OmamehJAX15.215.315.813.0766.3
    75Jamon BrownLA14.015.316.113.4765.9
    76Germain IfediSEA13.115.916.412.8765.2
    77Earl WatfordARI13.815.216.213.0765.2
    78Alvin BaileyCLE13.814.015.414.6764.8


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • B.J. Finney
    • Derek Newton
    • Evan Mathis
    • Joe Berger
    • Evan Boehm
    • Chance Warmack
    • Dakota Dozier
    • Jonathan Cooper
    • Jeremiah Sirles
    • Ryan Jensen
    • Ted Karras
    • Brian Schwenke
    • Andrew Donnal
    • J'Marcus Webb
    • Marshall Newhouse
    • Jason Spriggs
    • Isaac Seumalo
    • Chris Scott
    • Brent Qvale
    • John Urschel
    • La'el Collins
    • Parker Ehinger
    • Oday Aboushi
    • Arie Kouandjio
    • John Wetzel


11 of 22

    George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Even after a slight dip in play late in the year, Dallas' Travis Frederick ended up running with the center MVP award. We have talked about Frederick and the Cowboys offensive line at length which has been dominant all season.

    This year's top rookie at center is the Colts' Ryan Kelly. Indianapolis appears to have hit a home run with the first-round pick. His dominant natural traits are clear when you turn on the tape. But his ability to handle and command a constantly changing Colts offensive line is what impressed me as the year went on. If anybody has a chance at reaching Frederick's level of play in the next few years, it is Ryan Kelly. 


    Top Scorers

    • Top Center: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
    • Worst Center: Anthony Steen, Miami Dolphins
    • Best Pass-Blocker: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
    • Worst Pass-Blocker: Cameron Erving, Cleveland Browns
    • Best Run-Blocker: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
    • Worst Run-Blocker: Anthony Steen, Miami Dolphins
    • Most Powerful: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
    • Least Powerful: Anthony Steen, Miami Dolphins
    • Most Agile: Mitch Morse, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Least Agile: Nick Mangold, New York Jets


    Grading Scale:

    • Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run-Blocking (Graded out of 25)
    • Power: Power (Graded out of 20)
    • Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Center Rankings
    1Travis FrederickDAL18.318.517.614.9675.2
    2Ryan KalilCAR17.817.616.315.8673.4
    3Ryan KellyIND17.317.116.416.5673.0
    4Alex MackATL17.017.616.715.4672.6
    5Rodney HudsonOAK17.317.117.314.8672.4
    6Maurkice PounceyPIT17.116.716.415.8671.9
    7Eric WoodBUF16.617.616.815.0671.9
    8Travis SwansonDET17.316.816.615.2671.8
    9Joe BergerMIN16.917.416.714.6671.6
    10Matt ParadisDEN17.117.316.414.7671.6
    11JC TretterGB17.716.415.316.0671.4
    12Mitch MorseKC16.816.914.716.9671.3
    13Max UngerNO17.616.815.815.1671.3
    14Cody WhitehairCHI16.717.015.216.3671.2
    15Weston RichburgNYG17.416.716.314.8671.1
    16Corey LinsleyGB17.815.816.314.9670.8
    17Brandon LinderJAX17.016.816.114.8670.8
    18Jason KelcePHI16.416.815.016.6670.8
    19Ryan GroyBUF17.117.016.613.8670.5
    20Mike PounceyMIA16.516.315.815.8670.5
    21Justin BrittSEA16.216.515.615.7669.9
    22Greg ManczHOU16.017.416.413.9669.8
    23Wesley JohnsonNYJ16.915.916.313.9669.0
    24Matt SlausonSD16.416.316.214.1668.9
    25Nick MangoldNYJ16.917.616.911.6668.9
    26Jeremy ZuttahBAL16.616.115.714.3668.8
    27David AndrewsNE17.116.015.514.1668.6
    28Ben JonesTEN16.516.514.914.4668.3
    29A.Q. ShipleyARI16.315.915.014.7667.9
    30Spencer LongWAS16.015.615.614.3667.5
    31Daniel KilgoreSF15.515.215.614.8667.2
    32Joe HawleyTB15.515.915.513.7666.7
    33Cameron ErvingCLE14.515.514.615.8666.5
    34Nick EastonMIN15.315.214.215.7666.3
    35Russell BodineCIN15.815.615.912.8666.1
    36Tyler LarsenCAR16.514.514.214.7665.8
    37Tim BarnesLA15.314.815.613.1664.8
    38Anthony SteenMIA15.614.413.914.1664.0


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • B.J. Finney
    • Tyler Shatley
    • John Sullivan
    • Luke Bowanko
    • Gino Gradkowski
    • Kory Lichtensteiger
    • Graham Glasgow
    • Evan Smith
    • Kraig Urbik
    • Zane Beadles
    • Jonotthan Harrison

3-4 Defensive Ends

12 of 22

    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    In 2016, there were three 3-4 defensive ends in the NFC who stood out. The first is Calais Campbell, Arizona's star defensive lineman who is the poster boy for the prototypical body for the position.

    The second is Mike Daniels, who plays more of a 3-technique role in Green Bay's aggressive defense than what you would think a 3-4 defensive end plays.

    The third is DeForest Buckner, San Francisco's first-round rookie who picked up the slack when 2015 first-round pick Arik Armstead went down with a season-ending injury. Buckner was basically on the field for every defensive play of the season.

    Two other players, Chicago's Akiem Hicks, who has been wandering around the league the last few seasons, and Washington's Chris Baker, are close to becoming household names.

    The AFC featured a rookie in Joey Bosa, as he blew away every expectation and took the place of J.J. Watt as 2016's most dynamic and unblockable 3-4 defensive end. The Jets recouped their stars halfway through the year when they moved back to a traditional 3-4 defense, and the play of Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson instantly improved. The AFC rookies of Chris Jones in Kansas City and Emmanuel Ogbah in Cleveland look like future stars. 


    Top Scorers

    • Top 3-4 Defensive End: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers
    • Worst 3-4 Defensive End: Darius Philon, San Diego Chargers
    • Best Snap Explosion: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers
    • Worst Snap Explosion: Jamie Meder, Cleveland Browns
    • Best Pass-Rusher: Mike Daniels, Green Bay Packers
    • Worst Pass-Rusher: Darius Philon, San Diego Chargers
    • Best Run Defender: Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets
    • Worst Run Defender: Kendall Langford, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Tackler: Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals
    • Worst Tackler: Darius Philon, San Diego Chargers


    Grading Scale

    • Snap: Snap Explosion (Graded out of 15)
    • Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 30)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season 3-4 Defensive End Rankings
    1Joey BosaSD13.616.820.214.4771.9
    2Calais CampbellARI12.216.921.015.2771.9
    3Mike DanielsGB12.
    4Muhammad WilkersonNYJ12.415.221.214.6770.2
    5DeForest BucknerSF11.915.920.214.9769.4
    6Emmanuel OgbahCLE12.214.919.414.0767.6
    7Akiem HicksCHI11.216.319.313.9767.3
    8Derek WolfeDEN11.115.919.613.6766.7
    9Cameron HeywardPIT12.115.419.713.1766.7
    10Jurrell CaseyTEN10.916.419.413.4766.6
    11Chris L. BakerWAS10.815.919.613.6766.5
    12Stephon TuittPIT11.415.519.613.3766.3
    13Ronald BlairSF10.715.718.714.0765.9
    14Jadeveon ClowneyHOU13.015.718.312.7765.8
    15Cornelius WashingtonCHI10.915.918.013.8765.4
    16Ziggy HoodWAS10.915.018.713.9765.1
    17Timmy JerniganBAL10.714.819.313.4764.8
    18Chris JonesKC11.515.318.612.5764.7
    19Josh MauroARI10.615.018.113.9764.4
    20Dean LowryGB10.215.418.113.8764.1
    21Jaye HowardKC10.114.819.513.3763.9
    22Frostee RuckerARI10.214.818.513.4763.6
    23Corey LiugetSD10.614.119.312.9763.5
    24Jared CrickDEN9.914.119.113.8763.5
    25Tenny PalepoiSD9.414.419.813.2763.4
    26Quinton DialSF9.914.518.913.4763.3
    27Robert NkemdicheARI11.414.417.413.0762.8
    28Ricky Jean-FrancoisWAS9.814.418.413.6762.8
    29Arik ArmsteadSF11.015.616.713.1762.4
    30Jonathan BullardCHI10.214.617.413.4762.2
    31Karl KlugTEN11.414.517.312.5762.2
    32Denico AutryOAK10.013.918.213.2761.9
    33Mike PennelGB10.
    34Arthur JonesIND9.612.019.613.6761.8
    35Carl NassibCLE11.313.916.913.1761.8
    36Joel HeathHOU9.813.218.612.8761.4
    37Mitch UnreinCHI9.514.217.813.4761.4
    38Leger DouzableBUF9.913.617.713.5761.3
    39Xavier CooperCLE10.413.916.912.9760.5
    40Brent UrbanBAL9.513.318.412.3760.1
    41Henry AndersonIND9.813.417.812.4760.0
    42Lawrence GuyBAL9.113.018.312.8759.8
    43Jamie MederCLE7.713.118.114.0759.6
    44DaQuan JonesTEN9.513.218.112.2759.5
    45Adolphus WashingtonBUF9.913.516.912.5759.4
    46Antonio SmithHOU9.713.816.912.2759.3
    47Kendall ReyesWAS9.213.216.912.8759.0
    48Christian CovingtonHou8.412.318.412.8758.4
    49Ricardo MathewsPIT9.312.617.512.4758.3
    50Billy WinnDEN9.112.317.412.3757.6
    51Angelo BlacksonTEN8.612.317.712.3757.3
    52Kendall LangfordIND7.813.215.812.7755.5
    53Darius PhilonSD8.011.816.211.6753.8


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Christian Ringo
    • Rakeem Nunez-Roches
    • J.J. Watt
    • JT Walton
    • Letroy Guion
    • Zach Kerr
    • Matt Ioannidis
    • Mario Edwards
    • Tony Jerod-Eddie
    • Stephen Paea
    • Devon Still
    • Jihad Ward
    • Allen Bailey

4-3 Defensive Ends

13 of 22

    Peter Aiken/Getty Images

    In the NFC, two squads clearly had the best 4-3 defensive end units in 2016. The Seattle Seahawks, who had three Pro Bowl-caliber talents playing in Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark, had the conference's best pass rush, with a midlevel talent like Cassius Marsh only being an afterthought on that defensive line.

    Minnesota's defensive ends, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, also tore up the league, though Hunter was used mostly off the bench in the Vikings' three-man rotation that featured heavy reps from everyone involved. Emerging stars in the conference were Vic Beasley, Atlanta's 2015 first-round pick who led the NFL in sacks after being labeled a "bust" by some, and Kerry Hyder, Detroit's best defensive end from 2016 who was on the roster bubble in the preseason.

    The AFC featured fewer teams running a true 4-3. The best tandem was in Miami with Cam Wake, enjoying a fine comeback season, and the addition of Andre Branch, which ended up being a nice piece. The best 4-3 end was more of a tweaner LB/DE in Oakland's Khalil Mack. He could win Defensive Player of the Year on a largely bad defense. That's how good he was in 2016.

    The AFC also featured Carlos Dunlap on many weeks as he batted passes and performed equally against the run and pass. Jacksonville's Yannick Ngakoue could lead this group in a couple of seasons. 

    Top Scorers

    • Top 4-3 Defensive End: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
    • Worst 4-3 Defensive End: Wallace Gilberry, Detroit Lions
    • Best Pass-Rusher: Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings
    • Worst Pass-Rusher: Jared Odrick, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Best Run Defender: Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks
    • Worst Run Defender: Anthony Zettel, Detroit Lions
    • Best Snap Explosion: Robert Quinn, Los Angeles Rams
    • Worst Snap Explosion: Jared Odrick, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Best Tackler: Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks
    • Worst Tackler: Margus Hunt, Cincinnati Bengals

    Grading Scale

    • Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)
    • Snap: Snap Explosion (Graded out of 20)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season 4-3 Defensive End Rankings
    1Khalil MackOAK20.115.015.614.2872.5
    2Everson GriffenMIN20.214.316.114.0872.4
    3Brandon GrahamPHI19.815.015.314.3872.2
    4Cliff AvrilSEA20.114.015.914.2872.0
    5Michael BennettSEA18.816.514.814.5872.0
    6Frank ClarkSEA19.514.115.713.7871.0
    7Robert QuinnLA19.413.716.214.2871.0
    8Danielle HunterMIN19.613.815.513.9870.6
    9Cameron JordanNO19.414.514.313.9869.9
    10Jason Pierre-PaulNYG19.114.714.714.0869.8
    11Vic BeasleyATL19.
    12DeMarcus LawrenceDAL19.713.314.613.9869.2
    13Ezekiel AnsahDET19.013.114.914.1869.1
    14Olivier VernonNYG18.914.814.313.4869.1
    15Cameron WakeMIA19.712.615.613.2868.8
    16Wes HortonCAR19.112.714.114.1868.2
    17Carlos DunlapCIN20.214.313.412.6868.0
    18Kerry HyderDET18.814.313.213.9867.9
    19Noah SpenceTB18.012.914.713.6867.0
    20William HayesLA17.913.813.514.0866.9
    21Ryan RussellTB18.413.013.613.9866.9
    22Dwight FreeneyATL18.312.714.913.3866.7
    23Brian RobisonMIN17.913.613.813.6866.6
    24Charles JohnsonCAR17.414.513.513.5866.5
    25Trey FlowersNE17.815.312.513.5866.4
    26Adrian ClaybornATL17.513.913.513.8866.2
    27Jabaal SheardNE18.014.113.313.1866.1
    28Marcus SmithPHI17.413.413.913.6866.1
    29Robert AyersTB18.313.113.513.3866.1
    30Devin TaylorDET17.114.213.513.5866.0
    31Connor BarwinPHI17.413.514.013.3865.9
    32Andre BranchMIA17.314.113.413.4865.8
    33Yannick NgakoueJAX18.112.814.512.5865.7
    34Cassius MarshSEA17.913.013.813.2865.7
    35David IrvingDAL18.013.013.813.2865.6
    36Dante FowlerJAX17.613.613.813.0865.6
    37Sheldon RichardsonNYJ17.115.611.513.8865.5
    38Armonty BryantDET17.813.213.413.6865.4
    39Brooks ReedATL17.213.013.313.9865.3
    40Tyrone CrawfordDAL17.613.313.213.5865.2
    41Muhammad WilkersonNYJ16.615.312.213.5865.1
    42Ryan DavisDAL17.013.313.214.0865.0
    43Ethan WestbrooksLA17.713.613.112.9864.9
    44Darryl TappNO17.513.213.213.3864.9
    45Vinny CurryPHI17.
    46Mario AddisonCAR17.312.813.613.2864.6
    47Jack CrawfordDAL16.913.013.713.1864.5
    48Chris LongNE17.114.112.912.8864.4
    49Benson MayowaDAL16.912.813.313.5864.3
    50Ryan DelaireCAR16.713.713.213.0864.2
    51Kony EalyCAR16.913.113.113.3864.1
    52William GholstonTB16.413.912.413.6863.9
    53Paul KrugerNO17.213.012.913.1863.9
    54Eugene SimsLA16.713.112.813.5863.7
    55Romeo OkwaraNYG16.713.212.613.2863.5
    56Brandon CopelandDET15.414.012.813.6863.2
    57Kasim EdebaliNO16.812.713.112.7863.0
    58Lorenzo MauldinNYJ16.813.113.412.3863.0
    59Davonte LambertTB15.913.312.913.2863.0
    60Anthony ZettelDET16.612.112.912.9862.3
    61Matt LongacreLA15.214.012.812.8862.2
    62Michael JohnsonCIN15.813.512.112.2861.1
    63Jared OdrickJAX14.715.010.713.3861.0
    64Will ClarkeCIN16.212.912.311.8860.9
    65Mario WilliamsMIA15.913.611.811.8860.7
    66Margus HuntCIN15.913.911.411.6860.4
    67Jason JonesMIA15.912.911.012.9860.1
    68Wallace GilberryDET15.212.710.812.4858.7

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Randy Gregory
    • Derrick Shelby
    • Owamagbe Odighizuwa
    • Damontre Moore
    • Tyson Alualu
    • Shaq Lawson
    • Morgan Fox
    • Kerry Wynn
    • Lavar Edwards
    • Howard Jones
    • Shilique Calhoun

Defensive Tackles

14 of 22

    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Aaron Donald cemented his place as the best defensive tackle in football. He had his lowest rank among defensive tackles in Week 17 against the Cardinals, and it was still good enough to score him as the 22nd-best defensive tackle for the final week of the season. Before Week 17, Donald never finished lower than fourth.

    Atlanta's Grady Jarrett, New York's Leonard Williams and New England's Malcom Brown had terrific sophomore campaigns. Brown and Williams are developing into premier defensive line talents, while Jarrett isn't too far behind. Jarrett would benefit more from a strong supporting cast on the defensive line—things Brown and Williams both have. Cleveland's Danny Shelton had a nice sophomore season as well developing into the forceful nose tackle the Browns believed they were taking with a first-round pick.

    Sheldon Rankins and Kenny Clark, both selected in the first round, had strong rookie campaigns. Rankins missed the first seven games with a broken fibula, but he recorded four sacks in nine games while also being a force against the run.

    Clark wasn't as productive as a pass-rusher, but he had strong play against the run when the Packers decided to feed him snaps. Relative to the area he was acquired to play, Baltimore's Michael Pierce may have had the most impressive rookie season among defensive tackles. Pierce wasn't that productive as a pass-rusher, but he followed the mold of former Baltimore defensive tackles Kelly Gregg, Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa by being a stalwart against the run.

    Overall, this was a great year for defensive tackle play. Well-known guys such as Geno Atkins, Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox and Kawann Short lived up to the high standards they set for themselves. Young players look poised to join that top group in the coming years.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Defensive Tackle: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
    • Worst Defensive Tackle: David Parry, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Snap Explosion: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
    • Worst Snap Explosion: David Parry, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Pass-Rusher: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
    • Worst Pass-Rusher: Mike Purcell, San Francisco 49ers
    • Best Run Defender: Roy Miller, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Worst Run Defender: David Parry, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Tackler: Roy Miller, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Worst Tackler: Mike Purcell, San Francisco 49ers

    Grading Scale

    • Snap: Snap Explosion (Graded out of 25)
    • Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 15)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season Defensive Tackle Rankings
    1Aaron DonaldLA20.819.620.213.8780.9
    2Geno AtkinsCIN19.619.018.813.1777.0
    3Fletcher CoxPHI19.118.618.913.1776.3
    4Ndamukong SuhMIA19.118.119.313.2776.2
    5Kawann ShortCAR18.116.919.113.1773.9
    6Gerald McCoyTB18.217.218.912.9773.9
    7Kyle D. WilliamsBUF17.916.918.712.9772.9
    8Malcom BrownNE17.416.818.813.1772.6
    9Leonard WilliamsNYJ17.716.518.613.0772.4
    10Nick FairleyNO18.316.817.812.7772.3
    11Roy MillerJAX16.713.321.814.0771.8
    12Grady JarrettATL18.015.918.412.9771.8
    13Damon HarrisonNYG16.715.219.913.0771.4
    14Brandon MebaneSD16.914.619.813.5771.1
    15Linval JosephMIN16.914.919.513.1770.9
    16Malik JacksonJAX17.517.616.912.2770.9
    17Johnathan HankinsNYG16.915.917.812.5769.7
    18Brandon J. WilliamsBAL16.414.419.412.7769.4
    19Star LotuleleiCAR16.515.917.512.3768.8
    20Michael BrockersLA15.915.518.112.1768.3
    21Corbin BryantBUF16.415.917.112.6768.0
    22Alan BranchNE16.115.117.912.3767.9
    23Eddie GoldmanCHI16.515.217.312.2767.8
    24Steve McLendonNYJ16.014.517.912.7767.5
    25Dontari PoeKC16.815.116.912.0767.5
    26Dominique EasleyLA17.815.915.611.4767.3
    27Sheldon RankinsNO16.415.416.811.6767.1
    28Marcell DareusBUF16.514.916.911.6766.9
    29Terrell McClainDAL15.915.117.112.1766.8
    30Bennie LoganPHI15.815.117.111.8766.5
    31Michael PierceBAL15.813.418.512.1766.4
    32Kenny ClarkGB16.314.816.511.7765.9
    33Jarran ReedSEA15.514.717.111.8765.8
    34Tom JohnsonMIN16.616.214.711.6765.6
    35Corey PetersARI15.814.416.811.8765.6
    36Danny SheltonCLE15.214.117.612.1765.5
    37Caraun ReidSD15.614.617.012.1765.3
    38Maliek CollinsDAL16.314.915.811.7765.3
    39Vincent ValentineNE15.714.516.411.7765.0
    40Sen'Derrick MarksJAX16.914.815.111.2764.9
    41Ra'Shede HagemanATL15.914.316.211.8764.7
    42Jordan PhillipsMIA15.815.215.811.0764.6
    43Vernon ButlerCAR15.214.915.911.4764.1
    44Tyson AlualuJAX15.714.915.311.6764.0
    45Cedric ThorntonDAL15.514.116.011.6763.8
    46Earl MitchellMIA15.215.015.610.9763.6
    47Letroy GuionGB14.914.216.111.4763.4
    48Haloti NgataDET14.814.516.011.4763.3
    49Ahtyba RubinSEA14.414.316.111.9763.3
    50Rakeem Nunez-RochesKC15.414.415.111.3763.1
    51Clinton McDonaldTB14.814.116.011.6763.1
    52Stephen PaeaCLE16.214.014.811.0763.0
    53Tony McDanielSEA14.813.816.111.4762.8
    54Javon HargravePIT15.314.115.411.4762.7
    55D.J. ReaderHOU15.213.316.411.1762.6
    56Jordan PhilipsMIA15.613.815.411.6762.4
    57Rodney GunterARI14.713.816.111.1762.2
    58Jay BromleyNYG14.714.115.511.3762.1
    59Khyri ThorntonDET15.114.114.711.1762.0
    60Adolphus WashingtonBUF14.414.216.011.2761.8
    61Deon SimonNYJ14.314.515.210.7761.7
    62Domata PekoCIN14.413.615.811.2761.6
    63Stacy McGeeOAK15.114.114.811.3761.5
    64Abry JonesJAX14.313.216.111.1761.4
    65Vince WilforkHOU14.512.716.011.6761.3
    66Hassan RidgewayIND15.513.614.411.0761.1
    67Beau AllenPHI14.613.815.210.7760.9
    68Darius LathamOAK14.713.414.711.5760.8
    69Sheldon DayJAX15.314.014.110.7760.8
    70Jonathan BabineauxATL14.813.714.411.2760.6
    71Akeem SpenceTB14.113.315.311.1760.4
    72Paul SoliaiCAR13.712.316.411.2760.2
    73Sylvester WilliamsDEN14.713.414.710.8760.2
    74David OnyemataNO14.313.314.910.9760.1
    75Kyle LoveCAR14.413.015.110.8760.1
    76Cam ThomasLA13.913.514.711.1760.1
    77T.Y. McGillIND14.713.414.110.6759.9
    78Courtney UpshawATL14.413.514.211.0759.8
    79Tyrunn WalkerDET14.213.914.210.6759.6
    80Cullen JenkinsWAS14.913.414.010.6759.5
    81Tyeler DavisonNO13.913.314.710.9759.5
    82Zach KerrIND15.013.413.810.7759.3
    83Glenn DorseySF15.312.614.110.3759.3
    84A'Shawn RobinsonDET14.113.414.011.0759.1
    85Justin EllisOAK13.913.114.511.0759.1
    86Tyson JacksonATL13.212.615.411.3759.0
    87John JenkinsNO14.313.414.410.6759.0
    88Shamar StephenMIN14.
    89Al WoodsTEN14.312.414.710.7758.6
    90Damion SquareSD13.613.314.010.4758.3
    91Will SuttonCHI14.412.614.310.4758.2
    92Destiny VaeaoPHI13.912.814.010.2757.9
    93Dan WilliamsOAK13.312.614.011.3757.6
    94Pat SimsCIN12.912.114.910.6757.1
    95Austin JohnsonTEN13.112.014.610.4757.0
    96Adam GotsisDEN13.413.013.910.1756.9
    97Jihad WardOAK13.512.513.210.5756.4
    98Mike PurcellSF13.811.913.29.9755.2
    99David ParryIND12.911.912.310.4754.0

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Sharrif Floyd
    • Jack Crawford
    • Tyrone Crawford
    • Akiem Hicks
    • Jarvis Jenkins
    • Stefan Charles
    • Jordan Hill
    • DeShawn Williams
    • Daniel McCullers
    • Julius Warmsley
    • Jerel Worthy
    • T.J. Barnes
    • Sealver Siliga

3-4 Outside Linebackers

15 of 22

    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Von Miller, Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram are elite edge-rushers. Miller was consistently the best player at the position, with 10 weeks finishing inside the top five and seven as the top overall 3-4 outside linebacker. Clowney finished with the position's top overall grade, but he only had eight weeks where he was graded at 3-4 outside linebacker.

    Still, Clowney proved highly disruptive and occasionally unblockable when the Texans needed him to play on the edge. Ingram remains one of the NFL's most underappreciated and versatile defensive stars. He spent his 2016 season disrupting opposing offenses in a variety of ways, including as a rusher, against the run and in coverage. 

    A few pass-rushing pairs were also among the standouts. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden combined for 23.5 sacks for the Cardinals, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy produced 20 for the Redskins, and Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan tallied 19.5 for the Titans.

    The deepest teams at the position included the Broncos, with Miller, Shane Ray, DeMarcus Ware and Shaquil Barrett leading constant waves of pressure, and the Packers—a defense that received positive contributions from Nick Perry, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews and Datone Jones. The weakest teams at 3-4 outside linebacker included the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns.

    The Bears' Leonard Floyd was the best rookie, although the ninth overall pick had an up-and-down season. He sandwiched a promising middle of the season with an underwhelming beginning and end, even if injuries were the main cause. The Ravens' Matt Judon and the Bills' Shaq Lawson had some moments, but neither was consistent enough at rushing the passer or setting the edge.

    The worst 3-4 outside linebackers among those playing a significant number of snaps included Robert Mathis, Frank Zombo, Arthur Moats and Albert McClellan.

    Top Scorers

    • Top 3-4 Outside Linebacker: Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
    • Worst 3-4 Outside Linebacker: Curt Maggitt, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Pass-Rusher: Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
    • Worst Pass-Rusher: Lerentee McCray, Buffalo Bills
    • Best Run Defender: Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
    • Worst Run Defender: Aaron Wallace, Tennessee Titans
    • Best in Coverage: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Worst in Coverage: Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Tackler: Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
    • Worst Tackler: Curt Maggitt, Indianapolis Colts

    Grading Scale

    • Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)
    • Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 15)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 25)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season 3-4 Outside Linebacker Rankings
    1Jadeveon ClowneyHOU23.317.99.120.9878.9
    2Von MillerDEN22.117.610.020.7877.9
    3Melvin IngramSD22.215.910.319.5875.4
    4Whitney MercilusHOU21.315.79.419.1873.1
    5Chandler JonesARI21.715.29.618.9872.9
    6Markus GoldenARI20.915.79.319.0872.4
    7Nick PerryGB20.316.49.119.1872.4
    8Justin HoustonKC22.
    9Shane RayDEN20.515.59.818.6871.9
    10Lorenzo AlexanderBUF20.214.810.218.2870.9
    11Derrick MorganTEN20.714.79.418.5870.9
    12Brian OrakpoTEN20.514.510.118.3870.9
    13James HarrisonPIT19.414.910.518.4870.7
    14Jerry HughesBUF20.
    15Trent MurphyWAS19.615.29.918.1870.4
    16Ryan KerriganWAS21.314.29.318.1870.4
    17Terrell SuggsBAL20.314.79.318.3870.2
    18Pernell McPheeCHI21.
    19John SimonHOU18.415.89.818.2869.5
    20Shaquil BarrettDEN19.015.19.618.3869.5
    21Leonard FloydCHI20.313.89.917.8869.3
    22Jamie CollinsCLE18.813.59.119.6869.0
    23Dee FordKC20.113.99.517.8868.9
    24DeMarcus WareDEN20.813.68.917.8868.9
    25Clay MatthewsGB18.514.710.018.0868.8
    26Willie YoungCHI19.114.99.317.8868.6
    27Preston SmithWAS19.313.89.717.8868.1
    28Tamba HaliKC19.614.29.117.6868.1
    29Julius PeppersGB19.713.89.117.8868.0
    30Ahmad BrooksSF18.214.69.817.8867.9
    31Jarvis JonesPIT17.215.19.518.6867.8
    32Trent ColeIND19.613.69.317.4867.6
    33Bud DupreePIT20.211.89.318.2867.5
    34Datone JonesGB18.914.19.017.5867.3
    35Erik WaldenIND18.814.18.917.4866.9
    36Za'Darius SmithBAL17.814.59.217.3866.3
    37Emmanuel OgbahCLE16.315.79.917.4866.3
    38Kyle EmanuelSD16.614.89.617.7866.1
    39Jerry AttaochuSD17.714.79.017.4866.0
    40Shaq LawsonBUF19.912.29.116.7865.9
    41Elvis DumervilBAL19.612.09.117.0865.5
    42Matt JudonBAL18.113.39.316.9865.3
    43Jayrone ElliottGB17.812.98.917.6864.8
    44Cam JohnsonCLE18.
    45Albert McClellanBAL16.
    46Aaron LynchSF18.313.09.116.1864.1
    47Alex OkaforARI17.
    48Anthony ChickilloPIT16.213.89.616.9863.8
    49Eli HaroldSF17.512.99.316.6863.8
    50Sam AchoCHI16.213.89.716.6863.7
    51Akeem AyersIND16.612.510.316.5863.5
    52Arthur MoatsPIT16.113.310.116.4863.3
    53Tank CarradineSF16.613.19.316.6863.2
    54Corey LemonierCLE16.313.39.217.0863.2
    55Chris LandrumSD18.
    56David BassTEN15.714.58.916.6863.1
    57Kyler FackrellGB16.813.09.316.5863.0
    58Kevin DoddTEN15.614.49.216.6863.0
    59Robert MathisIND17.912.28.716.5862.9
    60Aaron WallaceTEN18.
    61Joe SchobertCLE15.114.19.915.9862.4
    62Frank ZomboKC16.013.48.716.4862.1
    63Tourek WilliamsSD15.214.08.916.3861.9
    64Lerentee McCrayBUF13.914.19.616.9861.6
    65Curt MaggittIND14.212.88.815.7858.8


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Nate Orchard
    • Brennan Scarlett
    • Kareem Martin
    • Kamalei Correa
    • Lamarr Houston
    • Lorenzo Mauldin
    • Dekoda Watson
    • Lavar Edwards
    • Christian Jones
    • Akeem Dent
    • Dadi Nicolas
    • Tank Carder
    • Brandon Spikes

4-3 Outside Linebackers

16 of 22

    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    We have reached the end of the road. It's been a long season filled with ups and downs for teams and for individual players, especially at the linebacker position. Through it all, though, a few linebackers stand tall among the rest.

    Bruce Irvin of the Raiders has been an unheralded star this season. Most notably, Irvin is a speedy edge-rushing presence, but he has become much more than that. He is quietly one of the most dominant run defenders in the league, which is especially impressive considering he is not a particularly heavy player (6'3", 250 lbs). Hopefully, Irvin will soon get the recognition he deserves.

    Much like Irvin, Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith improved this year and established himself as one of the best run defenders in the league. Few linebackers have his blend of speed, decisiveness and sneaky power. His biggest area of improvement is in coverage. Last year, the 25-year-old was a mess there (allowed 68 receptions on 86 targets), but this year, he graded better as a coverage player and looked more comfortable as one.

    Not all went as expected, though. Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr regressed. Heading into the year, Barr was the top-graded player at this position, but in 2016, he looked like a different player. He was timid, unwilling to get dirty and less effective overall. It was unsettling to see such a drop-off. Many have speculated Barr has been dealing with an injury all season, which would make sense given his newfound fear of contact. More than likely, this year an aberration. But it was an off year for the young star nonetheless.


    Top Scorers

    • Top 4-3 Outside Linebacker: Bruce Irvin, Oakland Raiders
    • Worst 4-3 Outside Linebacker: Jelani Jenkins, Miami Dolphins
    • Best in Coverage: Nigel Bradham, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Worst in Coverage: Dan Skuta, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Best Run Defender: Bruce Irvin, Oakland Raiders
    • Worst Run Defender: Jelani Jenkins, Miami Dolphins
    • Best Pass-Rusher: Bruce Irvin, Oakland Raiders
    • Worst Pass-Rusher: Donald Butler, Miami Dolphins
    • Best Tackler: K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks
    • Worst Tackler: Jelani Jenkins, Miami Dolphins


    Grading Scale

    • Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)
    • Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 15)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 25)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season 4-3 Outside Linebacker Rankings
    1Bruce IrvinOAK17.319.910.819.4673.4
    2Nigel BradhamPHI19.419.58.119.8672.8
    3Thomas DavisCAR18.619.18.620.0672.3
    4Sean LeeDAL18.919.57.919.5671.9
    5Telvin SmithJAX17.919.87.820.0671.5
    6K.J. WrightSEA17.819.67.920.1671.3
    7Lavonte DavidTB17.318.48.819.4669.9
    8DeAndre LevyDET18.817.67.418.8668.6
    9Anthony BarrMIN17.217.69.418.3668.4
    10Vontaze BurfictCIN18.218.27.617.6667.6
    11Shaq ThompsonCAR16.918.27.118.9667.1
    12De'Vondre CampbellATL17.117.87.718.4667.0
    13Vincent ReyCIN17.117.27.418.0665.7
    14Dannell EllerbeNO16.016.78.917.7665.2
    15Devon KennardNYG15.517.97.817.6664.9
    16Keenan RobinsonNYG16.417.17.417.7664.6
    17Karlos DansbyCIN16.216.87.418.1664.4
    18Rob NinkovichNE15.816.88.916.8664.2
    19Chad GreenwayMIN15.917.07.317.4663.6
    20Darron LeeNYJ15.
    21Jonathan CasillasNYG16.116.97.317.2663.4
    22Mark BarronLA16.516.27.617.1663.4
    23Josh BynesDET15.615.87.417.6662.3
    24Jordan JenkinsNYJ15.716.27.916.2662.0
    25Myles JackJAX16.215.87.416.6661.9
    26Damien WilsonDAL15.516.47.316.7661.8
    27Michael MorganSEA15.416.57.116.8661.8
    28Cory LittletonLA14.815.87.017.0660.6
    29Mychal KendricksPHI15.015.77.416.3660.5
    30Mike CatapanoNYJ14.515.68.415.8660.3
    31Brandon CopelandDET15.
    32Craig RobertsonNO14.515.87.616.3660.1
    33Daryl SmithTB15.015.87.515.7660.0
    34Antwione WilliamsDET14.615.97.316.0659.7
    35Shea McClellinNE14.815.18.215.7659.7
    36Josh ForrestLA14.915.77.016.0659.6
    37Justin DurantDAL14.715.67.615.7659.4
    38Malcolm SmithOAK14.515.37.216.4659.3
    39Philip WheelerATL14.415.47.615.9659.3
    40Spencer PaysingerMIA15.415.17.415.2659.2
    41Neville HewittMIA15.
    42Kyle Van NoyDET13.714.88.015.4657.9
    43Paul WorrilowATL14.514.37.015.5657.3
    44Dan SkutaJAX13.
    45Donald ButlerMIA14.514.46.915.2657.0
    46Jelani JenkinsMIA14.914.27.614.3657.0


    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Sean Weatherspoon
    • Bruce Carter
    • Kevin Pierre-Louis
    • Brock Coyle
    • Nate Stupar
    • Andrew Gachkar
    • Erin Henderson
    • A.J. Klein
    • Stephone Anthony
    • Koa Misi
    • Thurston Armbrister

Inside Linebackers

17 of 22

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    If Carolina Panthers star inside linebacker Luke Kuechly had remained healthy, he would have been the best inside 'backer in the game from Week 1 to Week 17. Unfortunately, a nasty concussion ended his season early and prevented him from going wire-to-wire as the top guy.

    Behind Kuechly is a handful of above-average starters who can impact the game in any phase—players such as Minnesota Viking Eric Kendricks, Philadelphia Eagle Jordan Hicks, New England Patriot Dont’a Hightower and Seattle Seahawk Bobby Wagner. On any given down, these players can stop the run with relentless physicality at the line of scrimmage, cover tight ends and backs seamlessly and rush the passer against less athletic interior offensive linemen. Their skills, when fully utilized, make them some of the most valuable defenders to their respective teams. 

    Ascending into the group of consistent dominance is Atlanta rookie Deion Jones. He is quickly growing into a top-notch player, utilizing his speed and his athleticism to mask other concerns throughout the Falcons defense. He's a steady riser among the inside linebacker ranks, and he'll be fun in the playoffs. If Jones continues to show the development he has in Year 1, there's no reason he can't be a top-five inside 'backer in 2017.

    Largely overvalued players are at the bottom of the list. For all of the talk about passing offenses, a linebacker who can cover but can't stop the run is a liability. Miami Dolphins middle man Kiko Alonso is the perfect example of a player with sideline-to-sideline range but the poor ability to stop the interior run with consistency.

    The overall group of inside linebackers in the NFL is average at best. Few players stand out each week, and finding one who affects an offense's game plan is rare. Toggling between adequate to slightly above-average players can be the difference between fielding an underwhelming defense and a dominant one.

    Top Scorers

    • Top Inside Linebacker: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
    • Worst Inside Linebacker: Nick Bellore, San Francisco 49ers
    • Best in Coverage: Jamie Collins, Cleveland Browns
    • Worst in Coverage: Nick Bellore, San Francisco 49ers
    • Best Run Defender: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
    • Worst Run Defender: Nick Bellore, San Francisco 49ers
    • Best Pass-Rusher: Jamie Collins, Cleveland Browns
    • Worst Pass-Rusher: Josh McNary, Indianapolis Colts
    • Best Tackler: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
    • Worst Tackler: Nick Bellore, San Francisco 49ers

    Grading Scale

    • Pass: Pass Defense (Graded out of 25)
    • Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 35)
    • Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 15)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 15)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season Inside Linebacker Rankings
    1Luke KuechlyCAR20.230.010.912.4679.5
    2Jamie CollinsNE/CLE20.628.711.111.9678.3
    3Jerrell FreemanCHI20.029.310.712.0677.9
    4Bobby WagnerSEA18.728.510.611.4675.2
    5Danny TrevathanCHI18.428.49.611.7674.1
    6Jordan A. HicksPHI19.227.59.911.1673.8
    7Eric KendricksMIN19.127.49.911.3673.7
    8Deion JonesATL19.927.29.311.3673.7
    9Benardrick McKinneyHOU18.127.610.611.1673.3
    10Brandon M. MarshallDEN18.927.39.611.5673.3
    11C.J. (Clint) MosleyBAL18.927.410.110.6673.0
    12Dont'a HightowerNE17.827.610.511.1673.0
    13Su'a CravensWAS20.325.310.111.2672.9
    14Paul PoslusznyJAX17.828.49.610.8672.7
    15Deone BucannonARI19.526.89.710.6672.6
    16Ryan ShazierPIT18.027.810.310.4672.5
    17Derrick O. JohnsonKC18.627.99.510.3672.4
    18Jatavis BrownSD19.626.09.810.9672.3
    19Denzel PerrymanSD18.427.89.510.5672.2
    20Zach OrrBAL17.027.510.411.1671.9
    21Kevin MinterARI17.827.39.910.7671.7
    22Todd DavisDEN18.426.69.710.8671.5
    23Zach BrownBUF18.026.89.610.8671.2
    24Preston BrownBUF17.626.410.011.1671.1
    25Will ComptonWAS17.726.89.110.8670.4
    26Brian CushingHOU17.027.68.810.5670.0
    27Ramik WilsonKC18.
    28Avery WilliamsonTEN16.326.310.111.1669.6
    29Lawrence TimmonsPIT16.626.69.610.9669.6
    30Max BulloughHOU17.726.38.710.9669.6
    31Korey ToomerSD17.726.38.910.6669.5
    32Chris KirkseyCLE17.126.49.610.4669.5
    33Jake RyanGB17.
    34Kwon AlexanderTB17.725.99.510.1669.3
    35David HarrisNYJ16.326.29.511.2669.2
    36Justin DurantDAL18.225.48.810.8669.2
    37Elandon RobertsNE17.026.09.410.8669.1
    38D'Qwell JacksonIND17.326.48.810.4668.9
    39Nick KwiatkoskiCHI16.526.09.810.6668.9
    40Blake MartinezGB17.
    41Mason FosterWAS17.225.98.511.0668.6
    42Wesley WoodyardTEN16.426.39.310.5668.6
    43Anthony HitchensDAL16.326.38.811.1668.4
    44Joe ThomasGB18.124.19.510.4668.1
    45Joshua PerrySD16.826.08.610.6668.0
    46Antonio MorrisonIND16.825.69.010.3667.7
    47Perry RileyOAK17.
    48Gerald HodgesSF16.225.98.810.3667.2
    49Justin MarchKC17.025.28.610.4667.2
    50Sean SpenceTEN17.
    51Demario DavisCLE16.
    52Nate StuparNO17.
    53Cory JamesOAK16.425.08.411.0666.8
    54Sio MooreIND16.425.69.19.5666.6
    55Corey NelsonDEN17.
    56Alec OgletreeLA17.
    57Kelvin SheppardNYG15.825.28.710.4666.1
    58Edwin JacksonIND16.423.79.310.2665.6
    59Tahir WhiteheadDET16.324.78.410.1665.5
    60Kiko AlonsoMIA17.
    61Michael WilhoiteSF16.523.88.710.1665.1
    62Rey MaualugaCIN16.324.28.410.1664.9
    63A.J. KleinCAR16.
    64Josh McNaryIND17.
    65Nick BelloreSF15.723.08.49.4662.6

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • NaVorro Bowman
    • Craig Robertson
    • Ray-Ray Armstrong
    • Vince Williams
    • Albert McClellan
    • Stephen Tulloch
    • Bruce Carter
    • Ben Heeney
    • Manti Te'o
    • Nick Vigil
    • Erin Henderson
    • James Laurinaitis
    • Audie Cole


18 of 22

    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    This season, we learned that New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is past his prime at 31 and may no longer be capable of playing the role he used to. His grades hovered around average most of 2016.

    Revis did not age gracefully into an off-ball corner like older stars Jonathan Joseph (32 years old), Brent Grimes (33), William Gay (32) and Adam Jones (33) have in recent years. As Richard Sherman gets closer to 30, he's still a good press corner. But we saw him transition to more off-ball than ever this season. 

    Another takeaway is the promising outlook of the position. Atlanta's Desmond Trufant, Minnesota's Xavier Rhodes, Kansas City's Marcus Peters, Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey, Baltimore's Jimmy Smith, Dallas' Morris Claiborne and Detroit's Darius Slay are some of the elite tier. With passing attacks becoming more efficient every year, these stars are more valuable each season.

    Cornerbacks who switched teams also collectively did well. Byron Maxwell had a solid season in Miami, and Casey Hayward was the best value in free agency for San Diego. Janoris Jenkins proved himself to the Giants after signing his five-year, $62.5 million deal. Sean Smith and Josh Norman had their ups and downs for Oakland and Washington, respectively, but were upgrades nonetheless.

    Some of this year's free agents-to-be saw their stocks dramatically rise, but most did not have stellar contract seasons. A.J. Bouye was a big winner, showing he may be the best of a talented cornerback depth chart in Houston. But Los Angeles' Trumaine Johnson and Buffalo's Stephon Gilmore were relegated to off-ball corners, which greatly diminished their impact. Cincinnati's Dre Kirkpatrick was inconsistent, but he has value. He's still improving as his role has grown.

    Top Scorers

    • Top Cornerback: Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos
    • Worst Cornerback: Johnson Bademosi, Detroit Lions
    • Best in Coverage: Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos
    • Worst in Coverage: Brandon Williams, Arizona Cardinals
    • Best Reaction: Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos
    • Worst Reaction: Brandon Williams, Arizona Cardinals
    • Best in the Slot: Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos
    • Worst in the Slot: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
    • Best Tackler: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
    • Worst Tackler: Ken Crawley, New Orleans Saints

    Grading Scale

    • Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 30)
    • React: Reaction/Recovery (Graded out of 30)
    • Slot: Slot (Graded out of 20)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 10)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season Cornerback Rankings
    1Chris Harris Jr.DEN22.422.817.15.9977.3
    2Janoris JenkinsNYG21.321.816.75.7974.5
    3Marcus PetersKC21.522.116.15.6974.3
    4Patrick PetersonARI20.821.316.45.5973.0
    5Desmond TrufantATL21.320.816.05.9973.0
    6Richard ShermanSEA20.520.516.66.3972.9
    7Jimmy SmithBAL21.420.716.15.6972.8
    8Casey HaywardSD21.320.916.15.3972.7
    9Aqib TalibDEN21.520.915.85.4972.5
    10Dominique Rodgers-CromartieNYG20.520.116.95.5972.0
    11Xavier RhodesMIN20.020.616.65.8971.5
    12Trumaine JohnsonLA20.019.616.35.6970.5
    13Josh NormanWAS18.919.716.66.1970.3
    14Kevin A. JohnsonHOU19.519.815.36.2969.8
    15Darius SlayDET20.119.715.75.3969.8
    16Brent GrimesTB19.919.516.45.0969.7
    17Terrance MitchellKC19.
    18Malcolm ButlerNE19.619.415.95.5969.4
    19Morris ClaiborneDAL20.
    20AJ BouyeHOU19.019.815.95.4969.2
    21Bradley RobyDEN19.219.816.15.2969.2
    22Alterraun VernerTB18.819.216.06.2969.2
    23Jalen RamseyJAX19.119.315.75.9968.9
    24Ross CockrellPIT19.619.215.55.4968.8
    25Johnathan JosephHOU19.519.015.65.4968.5
    26Lamarcus JoynerLA18.118.316.66.1968.1
    27Eric RoweNE19.218.715.35.2967.4
    28Robert AlfordATL18.818.415.95.4967.4
    29Stephon GilmoreBUF19.
    30Adam JonesCIN19.118.515.55.1967.1
    31Brandon FlowersSD18.517.715.85.8966.8
    32Dre KirkpatrickCIN18.418.715.25.3966.7
    33Jason McCourtyTEN18.818.015.45.4966.5
    34Darrelle RevisNYJ18.817.815.45.5966.5
    35Kareem JacksonHOU18.
    36Vontae DavisIND18.418.315.25.3966.1
    37Tyvon BranchARI18.917.615.45.3966.1
    38Ronald DarbyBUF18.418.215.15.1965.8
    39Sean SmithOAK18.418.314.95.1965.6
    40William GayPIT18.117.415.45.1965.1
    41Tramaine BrockSF17.817.615.35.4965.0
    42Byron MaxwellMIA18.717.914.35.0964.8
    43Logan RyanNE17.517.515.35.6964.8
    44Brandon CarrDAL17.617.115.65.4964.8
    45Tyrann MathieuARI17.017.715.15.9964.7
    46Bashaud BreelandWAS17.417.415.65.3964.7
    47Leon HallNYG17.717.713.96.1964.4
    48Joe HadenCLE17.517.115.55.2964.3
    49Darius ButlerIND17.116.616.65.0964.3
    50Trae WaynesMIN17.
    51Eli AppleNYG17.116.815.75.4964.1
    52Jalen CollinsATL16.917.615.35.3964.0
    53Terence NewmanMIN17.517.115.25.2963.9
    54Jimmie WardSF16.816.715.35.8963.6
    55Steven NelsonKC17.117.515.05.1963.6
    56LeShaun SimsTEN17.617.214.65.2963.6
    57Buster SkrineNYJ17.017.315.15.1963.6
    58Jamar TaylorCLE16.916.915.25.5963.5
    59Patrick RobinsonIND17.416.715.64.7963.4
    60Micah HydeGB16.317.015.45.6963.3
    61Darryl RobertsNYJ16.717.115.15.3963.3
    62Delvin BreauxNO16.317.315.25.3963.2
    63Rashard RobinsonSF16.916.615.35.2963.0
    64Marcus WilliamsNYJ16.916.714.85.6963.0
    65DeShawn SheadSEA16.716.614.65.9962.9
    66Brian PooleATL16.116.415.65.7962.8
    67T.J. CarrieOAK16.716.615.35.1962.7
    68Vernon HargreavesTB16.116.315.65.7962.7
    69Damarious RandallGB16.716.715.15.1962.6
    70Aaron ColvinJAX16.316.415.85.1962.5
    71Artie BurnsPIT16.716.914.75.1962.4
    72Tavon YoungBAL16.717.014.64.9962.2
    73David AmersonOAK16.816.914.54.9962.1
    74Juston BurrisNYJ16.416.615.05.0962.0
    75Nickell Robey-ColemanBUF16.416.415.34.9961.9
    76James BradberryCAR16.116.414.85.7961.9
    77Orlando ScandrickDAL15.915.815.75.3961.7
    78Nevin LawsonDET16.416.115.05.1961.6
    79Tony LippettMIA16.316.414.55.3961.5
    80Bryce CallahanCHI15.915.515.55.4961.4
    81Prince AmukamaraJAX15.915.915.15.1961.0
    82Ron BrooksPHI15.815.815.05.2960.8
    83Briean Boddy-CalhounCLE16.
    84Marcus CooperARI15.515.914.95.3960.6
    85Philip GainesKC16.315.914.05.3960.6
    86Nolan CarrollPHI15.615.914.75.4960.5
    87Captain MunnerlynMIN15.615.814.55.6960.5
    88Kevon SeymourBUF15.315.815.25.2960.5
    89Kendall FullerWAS15.
    90Jerraud PowersBAL15.315.615.25.1960.2
    91D.J. HaydenOAK15.716.014.25.2960.1
    92Quandre DiggsDET15.515.015.05.3959.8
    93Josh ShawCIN15.415.414.95.1959.8
    94Tramon WilliamsCLE15.815.214.75.1959.8
    95Darryl MorrisIND16.015.913.65.3959.8
    96Anthony BrownDAL15.415.114.85.4959.7
    97Steve WilliamsSD15.
    98Bobby McCainMIA15.415.614.65.1959.6
    99Brice McCainTEN15.315.914.84.6959.6
    100Trevor WilliamsSD15.415.614.45.0959.4
    101Robert McCainCAR15.
    102Ladarius GunterGB15.415.314.35.4959.3
    103Tracy PorterCHI15.415.214.65.0959.2
    104Keith ReaserSF14.515.415.05.0958.9
    105Davon HouseJAX16.
    106Cre'von LeBlancCHI15.
    107Quinton DunbarWAS15.
    108Jeremy LaneSEA14.814.614.85.3958.5
    109Jalen MillsPHI15.
    110Xavien HowardMIA15.914.312.76.4958.3
    111Daryl WorleyCAR14.714.614.55.5958.3
    112Sterling MooreNO14.514.614.55.2957.8
    113Leodis McKelvinPHI14.814.914.24.8957.8
    114Jude Adjei-BarimahTB14.214.614.35.6957.7
    115Rashaan MelvinIND14.814.713.94.8957.3
    116Shareece WrightBAL14.914.413.75.2957.2
    117Jacoby GlennCHI14.714.413.65.4957.1
    118Ken CrawleyNO15.114.613.84.6957.1
    119Antwon BlakeTEN14.414.713.95.0957.0
    120Leonard JohnsonCAR14.313.814.85.0957.0
    121Cyrus JonesNE14.214.414.05.0956.6
    122Quinten RollinsGB13.914.313.85.3956.4
    123B.W. WebbNO14.
    124Perrish CoxTEN14.314.213.45.2956.0
    125Greg TolerWAS14.314.313.64.9956.0
    126Troy HillLA14.313.813.35.3955.8
    127Darqueze DennardCIN14.
    128Justin BethelARI13.
    129E.J. GainesLA13.513.513.85.1955.0
    130Craig MagerSD13.613.314.15.0955.0
    131Trevin WadeNYG13.613.513.94.6954.9
    132Brandon WilliamsARI12.812.613.65.8953.8
    133Johnson BademosiDET13.012.813.35.0953.2

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Jason Verrett
    • P.J. Williams
    • Sam Shields
    • Josh Johnson
    • Marcus Roberson
    • KeiVarae Russell
    • Bene Benwikere
    • Antonio Cromartie
    • Robert Nelson Jr.
    • Trovon Reed
    • TJ Currie
    • Kayvon Webster
    • Demetri Goodson
    • Deiondre Hall
    • Javien Elliott
    • MacKensie Alexander
    • Johnthan Banks
    • Coty Sensabaugh
    • D.J. White

Free Safeties

19 of 22

    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    New England's Devin McCourty and Minnesota's Harrison Smith led the way in terms of consistency among free safeties. They both play unique roles that ask them to do a lot of different things, which many other safeties would struggle to replicate. These are two of the most reliable performers every week, and the schemes their respective teams use reflect a strong trust in them.

    The Patriots use McCourty in a variety of coverages. He spends a lot of time as the single deep safety, but if the opposition has a strong threat at tight end, running back or in the slot, New England often asks him to take on man-coverage responsibilities. Head coach Bill Belichick will even ask McCourty to split out wide and cover a wide receiver from time to time.

    Like the Patriots, the Vikings use Smith as the single deep safety. But because of Smith's versatility, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer also uses him in the box a high percentage of the time. Smith often lines up in the A-gap as part of a double A-gap blitz or coming off the edge against a tackle. The Vikings also have Smith fake the blitz and drop back into coverages, undercutting receivers and surprising the quarterback.

    Not many free safeties offer the same type of versatility and consistency those two bring each week. But in Dallas, the Cowboys saw second-year safety Byron Jones develop nicely. In base packages, he mostly played as the deep safety, but he also has great athleticism and man-coverage skills. Against top receiving tight ends, the Cowboys would shift Jones down to the line of scrimmage in pure man coverage.

    Jones matches up well against tight ends, a problem for most teams in the NFL as more receiving TEs enter the league. He had some fantastic performances in man coverage against them and covered Washington tight end Jordan Reed as well as anyone. Jones will be a huge weapon for the defense going forward.

    Nobody likes to see players suffer injuries, but some impact teams more than others. Earl Thomas' season-ending injury in Seattle was probably the most team-shaking loss. Thomas is an elite free safety with unmatched range and instincts. His ability to play in the deep middle of the field and get out to the sideline on any given play makes the Seahawks' Cover 3 scheme work. They've missed him down the stretch, going 2-2 in the final four games after his injury.


    Top Scorers

    • Top Free Safety: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
    • Worst Free Safety: Nat Berhe, New York Giants
    • Best in Coverage: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
    • Worst in Coverage: Nat Berhe, New York Giants
    • Best Recovery: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
    • Worst Recovery: Nat Berhe, New York Giants
    • Best in the Slot: Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings
    • Worst in the Slot: Jeff Heath, Dallas Cowboys
    • Best Tackler: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
    • Worst Tackler: Ed Reynolds, Cleveland Browns


    Grading Scale

    • Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 30)
    • Rec: Recovery (Graded out of 30)
    • Slot: Slot/LB (Graded out of 10)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100


    NFL1000 End-of-Season Free Safety Rankings
    1Devin McCourtyNE23.423.65.916.2877.1
    2Harrison SmithMIN22.923.86.315.6876.6
    3Earl ThomasSEA22.524.25.615.1875.5
    4Byron JonesDAL22.623.06.315.4875.3
    5Darian StewartDEN22.822.95.815.3874.7
    6Ha Ha Clinton-DixGB23.122.35.615.4874.4
    7Clayton GeathersIND21.922.46.315.8874.3
    8Rodney McLeodPHI21.923.65.415.3874.1
    9Glover QuinDET22.622.25.415.6873.8
    10Lardarius WebbBAL22.422.55.315.4873.7
    11Tre BostonCAR22.322.25.515.3873.4
    12Eric ReidSF20.722.26.215.8872.9
    13Ron ParkerKC21.721.65.915.4872.5
    14D.J. SwearingerARI21.821.95.515.3872.5
    15Dwight LowerySD21.621.65.715.6872.4
    16George IlokaCIN21.421.95.515.4872.3
    17Isa Abdul-QuddusMIA21.321.75.415.7872.1
    18Dexter McCoilSD20.921.55.615.6871.6
    19Duron HarmonNE21.621.35.015.8871.6
    20Andre HalHOU21.721.95.114.9871.5
    21Corey GrahamBUF21.121.15.815.4871.4
    22Michael MitchellPIT21.421.35.415.3871.4
    23Mo AlexanderLA21.421.15.415.4871.4
    24J.J. WilcoxDAL21.520.75.315.5871.0
    25Ricardo AllenATL21.421.45.214.8870.8
    26Marcus GilchristNYJ21.220.85.615.2870.8
    27Reggie NelsonOAK21.320.65.415.4870.7
    28Justin SimmonsDEN20.620.55.615.9870.6
    29Jairus ByrdNO21.420.74.915.2870.3
    30Steven TerrellSEA20.921.34.715.3870.1
    31Kevin ByardTEN20.320.45.815.3869.8
    32Kentrell BriceGB20.420.65.215.5869.6
    33Adrian AmosCHI20.320.15.915.3869.5
    34Bradley McDougaldTB20.120.75.515.1869.5
    35Will BlackmonWAS20.420.64.915.2869.2
    36Vonn BellNO20.320.55.415.0869.1
    37Andrew AdamsNYG20.320.35.015.4869.0
    38Antoine BetheaSF20.220.35.315.0868.8
    39Rashad JohnsonTEN20.119.95.315.4868.6
    40Jeff HeathDAL20.320.24.615.4868.6
    41Ibraheim CampbellCLE19.520.25.415.3868.4
    42Tashaun GipsonJAX20.220.24.715.1868.1
    43Corey MooreHOU20.319.84.715.1867.9
    44Robert BlantonBUF19.619.75.615.0867.9
    45Ed ReynoldsCLE20.
    46Michael ThomasMIA19.619.45.415.3867.6
    47Michael GriffinCAR19.219.35.715.3867.5
    48Cody DavisLA19.419.44.715.4867.0
    49T.J. GreenIND18.919.64.915.2866.6
    50Nat BerheNYG18.818.66.015.0866.4

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Darian Thompson
    • Derron Smith
    • Anthony Harris
    • Leon Hall
    • DeAngelo Hall
    • Chris Prosinski
    • Deshazor Everett

Strong Safeties

20 of 22

    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    The role of Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor has spread and helped many young players. He spends the majority of his time in the box, acting almost as an extra linebacker. He's a fantastic run defender and sets the tone for the Seahawks defense with big highlight-reel hits.

    In coverage, Chancellor works mostly in underneath zones as part of the Seahawks' base Cover 3 scheme. There, he shows terrific awareness of everything in front of him, breaking on checkdown throws quickly and making tackles. 

    This season, Falcons rookie Keanu Neal has been almost a carbon copy of Chancellor. Atlanta has asked him to match up with tight ends in man coverage with mixed results, but when it's allowed him to stick to underneath zones and work in the box against the run, Neal's been as dominant as just about any safety in the league.

    In Jacksonville, Johnathan Cyprien has had success in similar fashion. He spent last year changing between free and strong safety as the Jaguars tried to find the right combination. This year, they kept him in the Chancellor role at strong safety. Cyprien flourished and became very productive.

    Second-year safety Landon Collins is another player who has benefited from this role. The Giants give him more responsibilities than the others listed here, but they've done their best to keep him around the line of scrimmage, where he can have a bigger impact. 

    Collins has been effective in the running game, but he's also improved markedly in coverage. While he's still suspect in man coverage at times, his zone awareness is far better than it was last year. That led him to five interceptions in 2016. 

    Miami's Reshad Jones was having a terrific season before he tore his rotator cuff in October. He is one of the most well-rounded safeties in the league, equally adept in run support and coverage. He has the highest average grade of any safety this year, and it was a shame to see his season cut short by injury. 

    Top Scorers

    • Top Strong Safety: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
    • Worst Strong Safety: Jonathan Meeks, Buffalo Bills
    • Best in Coverage: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
    • Worst in Coverage: Miles Killebrew, Detroit Lions
    • Best Recovery: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
    • Worst Recovery: Jonathan Meeks, Buffalo Bills
    • Best in the Slot: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
    • Worst in the Slot: Adrian Phillips, San Diego Chargers
    • Best Tackler: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
    • Worst Tackler: Daimion Stafford, Tennessee Titans

    Grading Scale

    • Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 25)
    • Rec: Recovery (Graded out of 25)
    • Slot: Slot/LB (Graded out of 20)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season Strong Safety Rankings
    1Reshad JonesMIA20.221.216.716.5680.5
    2Kam ChancellorSEA18.819.216.216.3676.5
    3Eric BerryKC19.319.515.215.6675.5
    4Keanu NealATL19.319.115.315.6675.3
    5Shawn WilliamsCIN18.919.215.315.5674.9
    6Eric WeddleBAL19.518.315.315.8674.9
    7Keith TandyTB19.318.815.215.5674.8
    8Tony JeffersonARI18.118.915.616.0674.6
    9Landon CollinsNYG18.518.715.615.4674.3
    10Barry ChurchDAL18.618.615.815.3674.3
    11Morgan BurnettGB18.318.415.415.8673.9
    12T.J. WardDEN18.118.915.115.4673.6
    13Karl JosephOAK18.418.115.315.7673.5
    14Malcolm JenkinsPHI18.218.315.115.5673.1
    15Daniel SorensenKC17.718.215.215.8672.8
    16Antoine BetheaSF18.217.715.315.6672.8
    17Aaron WilliamsBUF18.318.714.914.9672.7
    18Andrew SendejoMIN18.117.915.115.4672.5
    19Robert GoldenPIT17.617.415.416.0672.4
    20Jordan PoyerCLE17.
    21Sean DavisPIT18.018.214.715.2672.1
    22Kenny VaccaroNO17.918.014.615.5672.1
    23Patrick ChungNE17.818.014.815.4672.0
    24John CyprienJAX17.717.315.615.4672.0
    25Da'Norris SearcyTEN17.717.514.815.6671.7
    26J.J. WilcoxDAL18.417.614.415.1671.6
    27Kurt ColemanCAR17.717.514.915.1671.3
    28T.J. McDonaldLA17.517.614.815.3671.3
    29Jahleel AddaeSD17.317.515.015.5671.3
    30Mike C AdamsIND17.517.114.815.5671.0
    31Quintin DempsHOU17.117.514.915.4670.8
    32Jaylen WatkinsPHI17.217.614.615.4670.8
    33Bacarri RamboMIA17.717.214.615.2670.7
    34Will ParksDEN17.217.314.515.6670.6
    35Jaquiski TarttSF17.117.314.815.3670.5
    36Duke IhenachoWAS17.217.515.014.7670.3
    37Tavon WilsonDET16.817.015.015.3670.1
    38Nate AllenOAK17.216.614.815.2669.8
    39Rontez MilesNYJ16.516.914.915.4669.6
    40Chris ConteTB17.216.714.515.1669.5
    41Derrick KindredCLE16.717.314.714.9669.5
    42Rafael BushDET16.516.614.915.3669.3
    43Calvin PryorNYJ16.716.714.615.2669.2
    44Harold Jones-QuarteyCHI16.816.614.515.1669.0
    45Donte WhitnerWAS17.116.214.714.9668.9
    46Anthony LevineBAL16.616.814.215.2668.8
    47Deon BushCHI16.417.214.015.0668.6
    48Daimion StaffordTEN16.216.914.714.6668.4
    49Roman HarperNO16.416.114.314.8667.5
    50Miles KillebrewDET15.616.314.315.3667.4
    51Eddie PleasantHOU15.916.114.215.1667.3
    52Adrian PhillipsSD16.
    53Jonathan MeeksBUF15.815.414.215.2666.6

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Clayton Geathers
    • Kemal Ishmael
    • Bradley McDougald
    • Micah Hyde
    • D.J. Swearinger
    • Kelcie McCray
    • Tyvon Branch
    • Tramon Williams
    • Keith McGill
    • James Ihedigbo
    • Demontre Hurst
    • Clayton Fejedelem
    • Corey White
    • Tracy Howard
    • Matt Elam
    • David Bruton
    • Duke Williams


21 of 22

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Sometimes, one player at a position stands so far above the rest that everyone else is competing for second place. It was that way for NFL kickers in the 2016 regular season, as Baltimore's Justin Tucker lapped the field in nearly every possible way.

    In an era when it's harder than ever for kickers to be consistent, Tucker was just that. He made 38 of 39 field-goals attempts, including a remarkable 14-of-14 from 40-49 yards and 10-of-10 from 50 yards or more. That's just ridiculous. He was also one of five NFL kickers this season to make every extra-point attempt. Tucker was above-average on kickoffs, but when his team needed him to add points to the scoreboard (a common need, given Baltimore's offensive travails in 2016), he was as good as could be. 

    Kudos to Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri, Dallas' Dan Bailey, Los Angeles' Greg Zuerlein and Pittsburgh's Chris Boswell as the other four who made every extra point they tried. Remember when those were gimees? Moving the extra-point attempt back is one of the few wins of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's tenure.

    Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant's team had a much better offense than Tucker's (evidenced by the lead-leading 57 extra points he tried to Tucker's 27), and when the Falcons needed more points, Bryant came through. He finished second to Tucker in overall field-goal percentage (91.9 to Tucker's 97.4), made all nine of his attempts from 40-49 yards and missed just two of his eight from 50 yards or more.

    Tampa Bay's Roberto Aguayo had a brutal first few weeks, but how the rookie from Florida State turned things around was impressive. In the first nine weeks, Aguayo missed five of his 12 field-goal attempts and missed two extra points, but he improved in the final eight weeks to make 15 of 19 field-goal tries.

    He was still inaccurate from 40 or more yards (2-of-5), and he finished with the NFL's lowest field-goal percentage (71.0) among graded players. One wonders what Bucs general manager Jason Licht was thinking when he traded up to get Aguayo in the 2016 draft, but at least there are some inklings of excellence going forward.

    That isn't the case for Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro, who missed 25 percent of his field-goal attempts this season—the same as Minnesota's Blair Walsh, whom the Vikings released in mid-November.

    Catanzaro drew the ire of head coach Bruce Arians after key misses, and it's easy to assume the Cardinals will have a different plan at the position in 2017. Buffalo's Dan Carpenter, Miami's Andrew Franks and Chicago's Connor Barth are three other kickers who may be changing addresses sooner than later.

    Top Scorers

    • Top Kicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Kicker: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Best Leg: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
    • Worst Leg: Nick Novak, Houston Texans
    • Most Accurate: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
    • Least Accurate: Blair Walsh, Free Agent
    • Best Tackler: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Worst Tackler: Robbie Gould, New York Giants

    Grading Scale

    • Pwr: Kick Power (Graded out of 40)
    • Acc: Kick Accuracy (Graded out of 40)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 10)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season Kicker Rankings
    1Justin TuckerBAL33.134.54.0374.6
    2Matt BryantATL30.933.14.0371.1
    3Dan BaileyDAL31.831.24.1370.1
    4Josh BrownNYG30.632.04.2369.8
    5Ryan SuccopTEN31.431.24.1369.8
    6Adam VinatieriIND30.731.84.1369.6
    7Wil LutzNO31.430.94.2369.4
    8Brandon McManusDEN31.530.44.0368.9
    9Jason MyersJAX32.828.94.1368.8
    10Matt PraterDET30.930.84.1368.8
    11Caleb SturgisPHI30.730.64.0368.3
    12Sebastian JanikowskiOAK30.630.64.1368.3
    13Kai ForbathMIN29.931.43.9368.1
    14Chris BoswellPIT31.129.94.2368.1
    15Steven HauschkaSEA31.629.34.1368.0
    16Greg ZuerleinLA31.129.73.9367.7
    17Mason CrosbyGB31.329.24.1367.6
    18Stephen GostkowskiNE31.329.14.1367.4
    19Dustin HopkinsWAS31.728.14.1366.9
    20Graham GanoCAR31.428.44.0366.8
    21Cairo SantosKC30.129.44.1366.7
    22Andrew FranksMIA30.828.64.0366.4
    23Nick FolkNYJ30.528.84.0366.3
    24Josh LamboSD29.929.34.0366.3
    25Chandler CatanzaroARI31.228.14.0366.3
    26Phil DawsonSF29.629.34.0365.8
    27Robbie GouldNYG31.227.63.8365.6
    28Cody ParkeyCLE30.727.94.0365.6
    29Nick NovakHOU28.829.54.1365.4
    30Connor BarthCHI29.628.34.1365.0
    31Roberto AguayoTB30.626.54.1364.2
    32Dan CarpenterBUF29.426.44.1362.9
    33Blair WalshMIN30.724.63.9362.1
    34Mike NugentCIN29.525.14.3361.9

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Sam Martin
    • Matt Bosher
    • Randy Bullock
    • Patrick Murray


22 of 22

    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    If the Los Angeles Rams were going to have the NFL's worst offense in 2016 (and they clearly were), at least they had the best punter. Johnny Hekker set a new NFL record for booting punts inside the opposing 20-yard line with 53. (Oakland's Marquette King finished second with 39.)

    Hekker also had the league's fifth-best gross average (average yardage before return) at 47.8 and the best net average at 46. He punted a whopping 98 times, but he did not lead the league. That ignominious honor goes to San Francisco's Bradley Pinion, who had 100 attempts.

    If you want to know how much of a challenge Chip Kelly's replacement as head coach will have in 2017, consider that. Pinion wasn't nearly as efficient, with a net average of 39.8 yards per punt.

    Indianapolis' Pat McAfee led all punters in gross average with 49.3, an impressive feat considering he was also the Colts' kickoff artist.

    Buffalo's special teams were disastrous overall. Dan Carpenter was one of the least efficient kickers last season (made 76 percent of his field goals), and punter Colton Schmidt didn't fare any better. He posted the NFL's lowest gross average at 42.4. Lac Edwards of the Jets posted the league's lowest net average at 37.3. 

    Top Scorers

    • Top Punter: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams
    • Worst Punter: Drew Butler, Arizona Cardinals
    • Best Leg: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams
    • Worst Leg: Drew Butler, Arizona Cardinals
    • Most Hang Time: Bryan Anger, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • Least Hang Time: Kevin Huber, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Most Accurate: Sam Koch, Baltimore Ravens
    • Least Accurate: Ryan Quigley, Arizona Cardinals
    • Best Tackler: Chris Jones, Dallas Cowboys
    • Worst Tackler: Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans

    Grading Scale

    • Dist: Kick Distance (Graded out of 20)
    • Hang: Kick Hang Time (Graded out of 20)
    • Acc: Kick Accuracy (Graded out of 45)
    • Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 5)
    • Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)
    • Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100
    NFL1000 End-of-Season Punter Rankings
    1Johnny HekkerLA17.015.635.93.0374.5
    2Marquette KingOAK16.415.333.43.1371.1
    3Sam KochBAL15.013.936.13.0370.9
    4Thomas MorsteadNO15.015.933.43.1370.4
    5Chris JonesDAL14.916.532.43.3370.1
    6Pat McAfeeIND15.915.332.93.0370.1
    7Bryan AngerTB15.317.231.13.0369.6
    8Shane LechlerHOU16.314.132.43.1368.8
    9Sam MartinDET15.615.631.33.0368.4
    10Matt BosherATL15.115.831.03.0367.9
    11Andy LeeCAR16.
    12Michael PalardyCAR14.
    13Brad WingNYG14.913.332.83.0367.0
    14Britton ColquittCLE13.314.333.42.9366.8
    15Tress WayWAS13.615.132.13.0366.8
    16Brett KernTEN14.
    17Matt DarrMIA14.012.933.73.0366.6
    18Dustin ColquittKC13.915.630.53.0366.1
    19Jon RyanSEA13.714.631.83.0366.0
    20Pat O'DonnellCHI13.
    21Bradley PinionSF12.615.731.23.0365.4
    22Ryan AllenNE13.413.332.83.0365.4
    23Jordan BerryPIT14.113.930.83.0364.8
    24Jacob SchumGB12.614.331.93.0364.8
    25Riley DixonDEN13.813.131.93.0364.7
    26Brad NortmanJAX14.115.528.93.0364.6
    27Kevin HuberCIN14.712.829.73.0363.1
    28Colton SchmidtBUF10.213.333.53.1363.0
    29Donnie JonesPHI12.913.330.53.0362.7
    30Jeff LockeMIN12.815.228.43.1362.5
    31Ryan QuigleyARI10.716.728.33.0361.7
    32Drew KaserSD12.313.329.83.0361.4
    33Lachlan EdwardsNYJ12.313.628.93.0360.9
    34Drew ButlerARI10.114.429.63.0360.1

    Notable Omissions (Due to Insufficient Games Scored)

    • Matt Wile
    • Graham Gano
    • Matt Bryant
    • Chandler Catanzaro
slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!